- Much like the joint military drills conducted by Iraq and Turkey last week, this week Iran began conducting joint military drills with the Iraqi army along the border of Kurdistan. The drill caused the shutdown of two border gates between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran, according to an official. After the Independence Referendum, the Iranian regime also banned fuel trade with the Kurdistan region.
- According to a recently released report by the Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK), 30 border porters (also known as kolbars) have been killed by the Iranian regime since the beginning of this year. The KMMK report also states that during that same time frame Iranian border guards have shot and injured 37 kolbars.
- The Kurdistan Independent High Electoral Referendum Commission (IHREC) announced the results of Iraqi Kurdistan’s recent Independence Referendum. An overwhelming 92.73 percent voted “Yes” to independence with only 7.27 percent voting “No.” Voter turnout was 72.16 percent, with 3,305,925 of 4,581,255 eligible voters having participated in the referendum. Following the announcement of the referendum results, the Iraqi Parliament hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi to vote on imposing sanctions on the Kurdistan region. The vote was taken without the participation of elected representatives of the Kurdistan region. Specifically, the Iraqi Parliament and cabinet agreed to a number of punitive measures against the Kurdistan region, including but not limited to:
- Stopping all international flights in and out of the Kurdistan region
- Deploying Iraqi forces to the disputed Kirkuk province
- Prosecuting all of those who contributed to the referendum, such as the Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani.
- Shutting down all ports and border crossings in the Kurdistan region with neighboring countries and considering all subsequently traded or transferred goods between these borders as smuggled goods.
- Calling on all countries that have consulates or other diplomatic offices in the Kurdistan region to close them and relocate them to different areas of Iraq.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq rejected all these punitive measures, calling them “aggressive and hostile to the people of the Kurdistan Region.”
- Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) repelled a counter offense by ISIS militants from the east side of Raqqa city. So far the SDF have liberated 90 percent of the city. Around one hundred ISIS militants attacked from the east side of the city after infiltrating the areas controlled by the Assad regime. A spokesperson for the Raqqa liberation campaign “Wrath of Euphrates” Jihan Ahmed said the clashes lasted for three days as the SDF cleared the areas from ISIS. The U.S.-backed SDF also continues to make advances near the Deir Al Zour frontlines. However, the Assad regime, supported by Russia, is getting closer to the city, making its way from the east side.
- On September 27, the Democratic Union Party of Syria (PYD), the predominant political party in northern Syria, held its 7th conference. During the conference, two new leaders were elected to replace PYD Co-Presidents Saleh Moslem and Asya Abdullah, who ended their two-terms and did not seek reelection. The two new Co-Presidents, Shahoz Hasan and Aysha Hisso, will hold their positions until the next conference.
- After the complete destruction of Kobane city two years ago, the democratic self-administered government of the city announced the opening of its first university, The University of Kobane. The university announced that it was now open for students to apply for this current year’s class sessions.
- On October 1, Lawmakers of the Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) gathered in front of Edirne prison where the Co-chair of the HDP Selahattin Demirtash is jailed. Demirtash continues to languish in prison without proper due process, as his hearing is repeatedly postponed. While his court hearing was originally scheduled to be held on November 3rd, 2016, Turkey’s courts have successfully moved the hearing to January 17, 2018. All HDP lawmakers (not counting the 11 jailed HDP lawmakers) participated in the protest instead of joining the new legislative year in Turkey. During a speech, the HDP Co-chair Serpil Kemalbay said: “Our co-chair is kept in Edirne Prison as a hostage,” adding that “we think our presence here in Edirne [Prison] at the start of the new legislative year is meaningful.” Despite the local government’s rejection of the Edirne protest, the gathering took place anyway.
- After the announcement of the results of the Independence Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, the HDP Central Executive Board released a statement calling the process “legitimate.” In the statement the HDP said “we hereby congratulate the people, political parties and administrative bodies of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) who exerted a great effort in the realization of the referendum.”