- The Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida reported that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi not to reign in the pro-Iranian Shia militias, known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in Iraq. These orders came during Abadi’s visit to Iran last week during a meeting with Khamenei and other Iranian officials. According to an anonymous source who spoke to the newspaper, Khamenei told Abadi that it is “very necessary” for these militias to remain freely operating in Iraq.
- Elements of the Ministry of Intelligence of Iran, known as the Ettela’at, detained a prominent Kurdish activist and lawyer Madih Fathi last week. According to the Kurdistan Human Rights Association, the Kurdish lawyer was taken to an undisclosed location. Fathi, also an environmental activist, is one of the most recent victims of the Iranian regime’s tyrannical raids against Kurdish activists.
- After ending his term, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq Massud Barzani has stepped down from his position. In a letter, Barzani told the KRG Parliament that he won’t continue in his current position beyond November 1. Barzani’s term as president originally expired in 2015, but was controversially extended for two more terms. Upon his resignation, the KRG Parliament will divide the president’s authorities between the prime minister and the speaker. Last week, the Kurdistan parliament extended the parliamentary term for eight months because of a delay in elections. The United States and other international powers praised the resignation of Barzani and described him as a great Kurdish leader.
- A Kurdish journalist was stabbed to death in his own home by unknown killers in Daquq district, south of Kirkuk. Arkan Sharif, a cameraman for Kurdistan TV of the Democratic Party (KDP) of Kurdistan, was found dead near his home after unknown assailants broke into his home, tied him up, and stabbed him to death while his family was still present in the house. Some of Pro-KDP elements have accused Pro-Iranian militias of committing the murder. In Kirkuk city, Pro-Iranian militias and federal police units raided a Kurdish café and detained a number of Kurdish youth for their support of the September independence referendum.
- After clashes last week between Peshmerga forces and a combination of Iraqi army forces and Pro-Iranian Shia militias, the KRG and the Iraqi Government reached a temporary cease fire. Following talks between delegations from Erbil and Baghdad, the KRG allowed the deployment of a small number of Iraqi soldiers to control the border gate of Ibrahim Khalil and Feysh Khabour on the Iraqi borders of Turkey and Syria.
- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued “Al-Jazeera Tempest,” its campaign to liberate Deir Ez Zour from ISIS control. As a part of this campaign, the SDF recently retook control of the strategically located village of Al-Nemliyah. As the race continues between U.S.-backed SDF forces and Russian-backed Assad regime forces for maximizing control of territory freed from ISIS control, new reports suggest the Assad regime may have reached an understanding with ISIS to cooperate in countering SDF expansion across the region.
- The Co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Ilham Ahmad criticized the Syrian peace talks between Iran, Syria, and Turkey taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan. Ahmad criticized the talks support of de-escalation zones, saying it was “dividing Syrian territory in favor of regional countries.” She also described Turkey’s deployment of its military forces in Idlib as an “occupation,” adding that she believed it was Turkey’s goal to support armed groups inside of Syria in order to expand its influence in the region and threaten the SDC’s autonomous democratic administration in northern Syria.
- Kurds in Europe continued protesting in several cities against the Turkish government, demanding that visits be allowed for imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. Meanwhile, in Turkey, Ocalan’s team of lawyers held a press conference. During the press conference, lawyer Sırrı Önder, a lawmaker for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey’s parliament, said “the isolation [of Ocalan] plays a destructive role in solving the problems in the country and in the region.” Turkey’s government has banned family visits for Ocalan, despite serious concerns about his health voiced by many within the country’s Kurdish population.
- Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Turkey will open a new border crossing with Iraq, adding that the Iraqi central government had now gained control of the border area, known as Ibrahim Khalil, from Kurdish forces which had controlled the area for many years. This marked another sign of the major collapse between KRG relationship with Turkey’s government since the September 25th independence referendum.