The whole MPs and experts that the compensatory seats, which is one of problems that hinder the adoption of the Law of ballot 2014, is a formula similar to the system of constituency per They pointed out that the blocks affected by the loss of votes voters within the circles multi prompted to insert a paragraph compensatory seats in the election law, but experts Control criticize the heads of blocs in the selection of candidates for seats claimed by some to be between 25 to 50 seats are distributed to the winning lists.
A member of the former Commission and an expert on elections denominator bonded "Parliament is witnessing a debate before each ballot to determine the size of the constituency," noting that "the Kurdistan Alliance prefers to make Iraq a single constituency."
He bonded in a statement to the "long" that "it is within the debate on the election law is the desire of some of the blocks in the allocation of compensatory seats to fill the seats in the next parliament," noting that "the allocation of seats compensatory is another form of constituency one, because the voices of compensatory seat count on the basis of the national total of the votes. "
He added that "the compensatory seats are combining existing closed and open," pointing out that "the debate in the House of Representatives is how the distribution of seats on the persons in the elections," he said, adding that "the distribution of seats potentially two ways: either by giving freedom to the masses election that determines a person which will get compensatory seat, or be based on the candidate who comes after the last winner in the elections. "
He bonded out that "compensatory seats through the ballot legislature in 2010 was only seven have been distributed on the basis of giving freedom to head mass in the selection of the candidate," stressing that the allocation of compensatory seats needs to reduce the number of seats college, and likely increase the number of seats overall to parliament in the next election to 350 seats instead of 325.
Attention Commission member Previous to that "account of compensatory seats needs to Qasim election," and if it is to adopt one ways counting "Saint Lego, Ausant Lego rate," which does not depend on denominator election, it must be calculated compensatory seats "in a special way out of the equation calculated Average total seats. "
Meanwhile, a vice president of the Kurdistan Alliance in the House of Representatives Mohsen al-Sadoun said that "the coalition does not want to contest the elections only after getting the new electoral law on the compatibility of everyone," adding that "compensatory seats proposed by the PUK and our demand that the department one is to avoid losing dozens of seats because of the circles multiple. "
Sadoun disclosed in connection with the "long" that the Kurdistan Alliance, "suggested compensatory allocation of 50 seats or 20% of the total number of seats of the parliament," he said, adding that "compensatory seats do not meet all the desires of the Kurdistan Alliance, which prefers to make Iraq a single constituency."
He said al-Sadoun said "the insistence of the Kurdistan compensatory seats to avoid a loss of more than 30 seats, and the repetition of what happened in the last election because constituencies multiple," stressing that "20 of the total number of parliament Kmhad compensatory proposed by the bloc would comprise approximately 15 seats for the quota of minorities, will be added according to the decisions of the Court Federal, five seats for Christians, five for Aesidein, and three of the Faili Kurds, and two of kink. "
He added that the number of compensatory seats quota in addition to the votes obtained by the blocs in accordance with national denominator will be 63 seats, explaining that "the selection of candidates for compensatory seats will be in the opinion of the parliamentary blocs."
On the other hand confirms al-Sadoun, a member of the legal committee representative that "the Commission is still studying the proposals of the parliamentary blocs," noting that "no agreement yet on the final version of the law, nor the number of compensatory seats, or the size of the circle, or menu selection closed or open."
In the meantime, member bloc citizen Aziz Okkaily that "the biggest difference between the parliamentary blocs is in the number of compensatory seats," pointing out that "compensatory are circumvent the will of the voter."
The Okkaily in a statement to the "long" that "the political blocs want to give seats to prominent figures will not succeed in getting enough votes to win a seat in the House of Representatives," stressing that "there is a difference between the blocks on the number of seats, where it took some lumps 25 seats, Others want 50. "
The Alachaeli believes that "raise the ceiling on the number of compensatory seats would be a circumvention of the will of the voter, because he chooses deputies according to the will of the leaders of the blocks and not the votes obtained by the candidate."
The Electoral Commission for elections ratified, in April 2010, to amend the system of allocating seats number twenty-one of the year two thousand and ten, which included granting political entities winning the right to nominate candidates to these seats, and distributed compensatory seats by two seats for each of the State of Law coalition and the Iraqi List and the List Iraqi National Coalition and one seat for the Kurdistan Alliance.
Kurdistan and the Liberals: Maliki is trying to buy again through tribal support councils
14-09-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
Baghdad / Mohammad Sabah
Considered the Kurdistan Alliance and the Sadrist movement, on Friday, reviving Awakening and support councils as political propaganda seeks early behind the Prime Minister to join clans "under the banner", describing them of trying to "to mobilize and the militarization of society."
He warned Congress about two blocks from the negative consequences of that security, demanding the government with the support of the military rather than re-formations previous cost the state budget and was open the door to financial corruption, students integrating elements of the Awakening in security devices.
Support Councils formed by the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in 2007 after the formation of the Awakening in 2006 and includes the Iraqi tribes wishing to belong to her, and has contributed in helping the security forces and the fight against the armed groups, particularly in the years of sectarian violence.
The sources revealed the "long" recently received an associate of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki backing file in the central and southern governorates. The sources pointed out that the activation file elders controversial attribution is part of a security plan to revive the Awakening and backing after it has been frozen over the past years
The Agence France-Presse quoted, earlier this month, government officials as saying they fired an attempt to revive the project of the Awakening movement, initiated by U.S. forces to fight al Qaeda, in an attempt to reduce the deterioration of the security situation witnessed by Iraq for months. The officer confirmed the Ministries of Interior and Defense recently trained 2000 new element to engage in the Awakening.
The country has seen since the beginning of 2013, a rise of random acts of violence daily, killing a total of 3507 people, an average of 15 people a day, according to the tally by AFP based on security and military sources and medical.
Commenting on this, MP Shwan Mohammed Taha, a member of the Commission on Security and Defense parliamentary, that "the restructuring of support councils according to the system Awakening came after poor security and defense of Iraq in the face of terrorism," but he sees the need to cancel councils after the formation of the army and police.
He adds Xuan, in an interview for the "long" yesterday, saying that "the re-formation of support councils by the government would disrupt the security situation is an attempt to mobilize the Iraqi street, and the militarization of society," stated that "these attempts have an impact and negative consequences and will make it easier for the existence of the problems of tribal and sectarian strife."
The MP for the Kurdistan Alliance, "the need to keep the arms, however, the state only because the arming of the tribes would disrupt the security situation and gives a negative image to build a civil state."
He referred to "the presence of a large slouch in the defense system is needed to build a professional army to address terrorism," adding that "raise the issue of attribution at this particular time is an early election propaganda."
For his part, MP criticized Javad Alshahyla, member of the parliamentary Liberal block, reshape the support councils, saying it was "Iraq carry huge amounts of money", describing it as "an early election propaganda used by the government."
He Alshahyla, in a statement to the "long" yesterday that "trying to restructure support councils and Awakening by the government is unacceptable, because our budget goes to the ministries of defense and interior," he added, wondering "Why did not adhere to government figures who worked on the backing and the Awakening through their inclusion in military institutions? And why return once again to support councils in these circumstances. "
The member of the Liberal bloc chest to "build an institution genuine security capable of maintaining security in all parts of the country", and demanded that the prime minister, "naming the ministers of defense, interior and isolate the leaders losers instead of going for the formation or reorganizing support councils and disbursement of large sums of money on these formations."
And considered Alshahyla "restructuring support councils and the Awakening currently before the government will not be President solution, but must rearrange papers with the security system arming the army and the security establishment is well-armed with addressing the issue of aliens who are in the security services."
He continued that "it is necessary to integrate the Awakening with the army and leave the issue of support councils on the grounds that it does not exist and there is no need her, one of the doors of corruption."
He pointed out that "activation of these councils at this time has political implications for the collection of tribal elders and to include them under the banner of the Prime Minister and election propaganda."
Future alliances change the political equation Kurdistan Region of Iraq
14-09-2013 | (Voice of Iraq)
Erbil: Shirzad Shikhani of the
In the midst of the election campaign, and the absence of institutions and centers of scientific research read directions voter Kurdish, increasing speculation and expectations of the leaders of the Kurdish parties win landslide in the next election; Every party with their rejoicing, so call statements without any account of reality bypassing often limits of logic, delivering roof those expectations into numbers completely at odds with reality elections, and Tstgvl the participation of more than 30 parties and political entities such elections; party there says he will get 45 per cent of the seats in parliament, and another claims that he will win by 35. There are those who expected winning forty seats, while it is claimed that number is less than previous elections. And left out all of those that the number of seats is a hundred-seat parliament neither increases nor decreases, and there are nearly 15 seats in previous elections went to small parties and leftist and Islamic nationalism.
Everyone is waiting for the results of the upcoming elections which will be crucial and decisive already for many of the fundamental forces of Kurdistan, which is facing for the first time since the liberation of Kurdistan in 1991 and the formation of the first local parliament in 05/19/1992 the first serious challenge, especially after the break up of the alliance between the two main parties (the Union National led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by regional president Massoud Barzani) and each go to the next election an independent list, add to that the emergence of the MDC opposition, whose leaders claim that they have gained more popularity including allowing them to take power next phase.
As pointed head Mustafa Nushirwan movement «that his movement is seeking this time to hand over power and not just coming up the government. He said in an interview televised on Channel «so that the» of the movement: «The era of intimidation and purchase of receivables has gone, the methods they resort to authoritarian governments and failed, society Kurdistan today is more aware of the deception of such methods, so the next election will be Kalmgma fair value, which could punish the abuser and improved rewards, so I invite all the people to go to the polls to elect to deem worthy of their trust, and decide they themselves rewarded and punished. The President of the MDC opposition «that the next phase for the movement of change is the stage came to power, with an emphasis on that we will not Ngosai or Nhmh any political party, whether big or small, and that the movement will work to protect social peace and to give the opportunity for all to participate in the administration of the region ».
In response to this statement, welcomed the spokesman of the political bureau of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the quiet of the President of the MDC, said: «The statements made by Mustafa does not differ from what was fired from previous statements, but this time it was quieter, but it is in essence no difference between those statements ». And about the desire of the MDC in the receipt of power, he said Jaafar Emenki spokesman politburo Barzani in an interview with the program «happened today» TV «روداو» Kurdish: «assumed power does not need a miracle so that Mr. Mustafa achieved, the opportunity for them, if they were able to win upcoming elections فليتفضلوا receipt of power, from our side, we believe the coexistence of everyone, but the MDC since the beginning of its inception was seeking to write off our Party and the Patriotic Union, and recent statements is considered a change to the position of this movement, and this is welcome.
In the view of a leading party Talabani «The MDC can not proceed to form a government alone, even if won by an overwhelming majority, there has to be a coalition government of all parties that get seats in parliament next», said leader told «Middle East»: « There is a political reality imposed on Kurdistan since several decades, which dictates that a joint management authority will be, because the Kurdish community itself is divided on several political trends, and no one from any party can govern alone.
Asked about whether resorted MDC into an alliance with the Party of Barzani at the expense of his party National Union said Kurdish leader: «This is not possible and realistic, because we and the MDC are close in thought and approach more than one party Barzani with them, we have denominators several common gathered historically and نضاليا, politically and intellectually, and drink from the spring itself, so it must eventually be united with them, or at least that there will be a political alliance between us, and I think that after the next election will become clearer picture more, but I assure that the alliance of our party with the MDC would likely tip the balance in favor of us together, Whether the next government or in parliament, and this in itself would be a positive change the current political equation.
For his part, stresses Dr. Shoresh Haji leader of the movement change the Kurdish and her deputy, the Iraqi parliament on «community that Kurdistan is becoming more aware in dealing with the political parties in Kurdistan, and I think it has become able to distinguish between the programs of the parties and between the words and actions», adding: «Let's wait the results of the upcoming elections , and I think that the political map of Kurdistan will inevitably change after these elections, and new alliances will impose itself ».
In a related context, another person was killed attack by unknown assailants on the electoral headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Bmahlh (Haji Awa) the status of the city of Sulaymaniyah. The spokesman said the leadership of the city's police «that the unknown opened fire on the headquarters of the electoral Mahalla mentioned, which led to the death of a young man in the age of eighteen, and wounding another wounded, and initiated security authorities' investigations into the incident in question, which comes just one day after the killing of another woman gathering of election belonging to the opposition Movement for Change ».
By: Mushreq Abbas for Al-Monitor Iraq Pulse Posted on September 13.
The Sept. 8 visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Iraq caught the media's attention, but that of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, in late August largely passed unremarked. While in Baghdad, Zarif denied that Iran had any intention of hitting US interests in Iraq in response to a potential strike on Syria. He warned, however, “Whoever starts the war on Syria will not be able to contain it or put an end to it.” Soleimani’s talks, however, were shrouded in an air of secrecy and confidentiality.
Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Qods Force, has been seeking assistance from Iraqi Shiite forces to provide support to the Syrian regime but without much apparent success.
The Transfer of the Conflict From the Local to the Regional in Iraq Has Caused Confusion Between Soleimani and His ‘Iraqi Friends’
Author: Mushreq Abbas
Posted on: September 13 2013
Translated by: Joelle El-Khoury and Pascale El-Khoury
Informed sources told Al-Monitor that Soleimani, dispatched to deal with developments involving Syria, had been disappointed by the failure of Iran’s “Iraqi friends” to stick together in confronting dangerous regional developments deemed fateful by Tehran.
These same sources confirmed that during his August visit Soleimani had no longer been interested in the types of details that he had discussed in the past, such as managing relationships among the key Shiite parties or their relationships with other Iraqi parties. In this respect, it must be noted that Soleimani has been in charge of the Syrian dossier since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis within the capacity of his responsibility for Iranian national security. For the time being, Iraqi issues come in second, but are a complementary concern.
According to Al-Monitor's sources, Soleimani was clearly upset during his visit by the lack of enthusiasm among the main Iraqi Shiite forces for a project Tehran proposed months ago within the scope of its regional arrangements. The political element of the proposed project sought to prompt Iraqi Shiite forces to form a united front for managing Iraqi affairs and to avoid conflicts among themselves.
On the security level, Soleimani recommended that the main Shiite militias shift the nature of their activities from the local level to the regional level by implementing coordination and consolidation mechanisms among themselves. These mechanisms were to have been adopted by Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kata'ib Hezbollah in Iraq on the one hand, and on the other among Lebanese Hezbollah, Syrian militias established in anticipation of developments in the Syrian conflict and groups in Yemen and Bahrain.
The sources pointed out that the Iraqis realized that the changes sought by Soleimani would represent a major strategic shift for them. Their less than enthusiastic response stemmed from their questioning the usefulness of such a change and the potential consequences. None of the main Shiite parties apparently were willing to get involved in major regional military confrontations, nor could the militias mobilize a sufficient number of supporters for such an option.
That aside, Soleimani’s project in Iraq faltered primarily as a result of the early reluctance expressed by the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The Sadrist movement’s military wing, the Mahdi Army, includes a large contingent of former insurgents. While the majority of the latter remain loyal to their leader’s proposals, some have defected and joined Asaib Ahl al-Haq or Kata'ib Hezbollah.
Relations between Soleimani and Sadr have been strained for more than a year now, after the latter exposed Soleimani’s true role in organizing Iraq’s political cards in “The Noble Goal of the Erbil Visit,” which was published in mid-2012. Most Shiite leaders, however, have for years denied that he plays such a role.
The issue, however, goes beyond personal disputes. At the moment, Sadr does not seem to be in harmony with Iran’s general orientation. This is the case not only in terms of his perspective on the nature of the Iraqi government and the need to be open to different social groups, but also in dealing with the Syrian crisis. Sadr has washed his hands of Iraqi militants who have joined the fighting in Syria. Moreover, he raised the flag of the Free Syrian Army next to that of the Syrian regime's in a ceremony held by his movement in the city of Wasit on March 15, explaining that he was maintaining an equal distance from everyone in the Syrian arena. For this, the main Shiite forces strongly criticized him.
While Sadr seems far from adopting Soleimani’s vision and new demands, the other parties, including the State of Law coalition and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, have not exactly given Iran a “blank check” either, according to Al-Monitor's sources.
The same confirmed as well that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also believes that Iraq must keep an adequate distance from the Iranian position on Syria. He feels that close engagement in regional confrontations will not help Iraqis, who are sharply divided along sectarian lines and are already paying the price of regional conflict on their own territory. This position may be one of the reasons behind Soleimani’s resentment toward the Iraqi government, which has been subjected to continuous pressure from Tehran to support the Bashar al-Assad regime.
It is not easy for an Iraqi party, even inside Iraq, to dismiss Soleimani. This is particularly difficult now that the militias’ are more organized and capable of engaging in conflicts across the border. In the meantime, the Iraqi Shiite parties, which have been engaged in a political struggle over who will rule the country, will maneuver as best they can. Their aim is to reduce Iranian pressure until the Syrian issue is resolved or until the nature of the political conflict regarding the government in Iraq is decided in the 2014 elections.
Mushreq Abbas is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. He has been managing editor of Al-Hayat’s Iraq bureau since 2005 and has written studies and articles on Iraqi crises for domestic and international publication.
By: Shahir ShahidSaless for Al-Monitor Iran Pulse Posted on September 13.
In January 1998, a few months after his election, Iran’s reformist President Mohammad Khatami held his historical interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. During the interview, he criticized the nascent theory of “clash of civilizations” and instead proposed a "dialogue between civilizations.” He asserted that differences between the Islamic world and the West are not born from inherent antagonism between the two civilizations, but rather that the differences emanate from lack of communication and understanding.
The influence Iranians have on the views of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei should not be underestimated.
Author: Shahir ShahidSaless
Posted on: September 13 2013
Categories : Originals Iran
In practice, he was loyal to his theory. During Khatami’s eight-year presidential term, he adopted reconciliatory policies toward the West that included concessions on Iran’s nuclear program. Of the same ideological persuasion, his secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Hassan Rouhani, was the architect of a proposal to voluntarily suspend Iran’s uranium enrichment program in an effort to build confidence with the West, then represented by the EU3 (Britain, France and Germany).
Although the effort concluded unsuccessfully when the two sides failed to reach permanent agreement on common ground, Iran's supreme leader accepted and carried out the suspension for nearly two years.
Today, Hassan Rouhani is the president of Iran. He is determined to bring Iran’s nuclear issue to an end and restore Iran’s relations with the West. Beyond that, Rouhani seeks to normalize relations with the United States. Before his election, he remarked, “Iran is not supposed to refuse to talk to the United States and the relations remain severed.”
While numerous developments have decidedly increased optimism after 34 years of hostility, Iran and the United States may finally reconcile, Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent statements cast doubt on this optimism. In his Sept. 9 speech, Iran’s supreme leader asked the country’s “administration, politicians and diplomats” to analyze the West’s behavior in the framework of a “deep and fundamental conflict between Islam and the West.” This is a clash of civilizations perspective which clearly contrasts with the Rouhani administration’s published foreign policy mandate, which criticizes the theory and questions its validity.
Ayatollah Khamenei added, “Lying and pretention are the characteristics of Western politicians.” While the tone of his speech was by no means unprecedented, it does beg the question of the significance of the timing of the supreme leader's statements, as optimism with respect to Iran-West relations abounds.
One clear message to the West that Iran is focusing on through talks to end the deadlock over its nuclear program is the recent transfer of the nuclear dossier from the SNSC to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where Javad Zarif, an internationally known pragmatic Iranian diplomat, presides.
Meanwhile, another noticeable shift in Iran’s foreign relations compartment was the absence of customary threats and provocative words toward the United States during the recent Syrian crisis by Rouhani as the president, or any member of his administration, despite Syria’s strategic import to Iran. This radically differed from the customary response from his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
There are other signs that exhibit willingness by Iran and the United States to turn to a new page in their relations. Although on Sept. 11, Zarif dismissed a report released by Al-Hayat, the London-based pan-Arab daily, that US President Barack Obama sent a message to Iran, calling the message “not true.” A few days before that, Zarif had said, “It is possible that some messages [from Washington], verbal or otherwise, in different ways, were sent for the president.” Zarif also confirmed that there has been communication between Tehran and Washington with regard to the Syrian crisis. He added, “If necessary we will continue this process.”
Another positive development of major significance is the upcoming meeting between Zarif and his British counterpart, William Hague, expected to take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York from Sept. 24-Oct. 2. Britain closed its Tehran embassy in November 2011, after it was stormed and vandalized by protesters. This would be the first meeting between the British foreign secretary with an Iranian official since Ahmadinejad became Iran’s president in 2005. The meeting is not confirmed yet but according to Zarif, “The British foreign secretary has expressed his willingness for a bilateral meeting publicly and privately.” Zarif has said he has “no problem” with that.
Addressing the question of why, despite all these positive developments, Ayatollah Khamenei made detractory statements, there are a couple of possible explanations. It could be argued that the move was aimed to undermine Rouhani and his reconciliatory approach toward the West, to maintain the status quo. However, this notion is likely inaccurate.
Iran’s supreme leader knew Rouhani’s mandate from the onset of his election campaign, and while many observers in the West predicted that, as a result of vote rigging, the conservative candidate Saeed Jalili would be Iran’s next president, Rouhani won more votes than the five other conservative candidates combined.
Moreover, Rouhani is not a newcomer. He has been Ayatollah Khamenei’s confidante, as well as his representative in the SNSC for 23 years, until this year’s June elections.
In addition, in his statements on Sept. 5, Ayatollah Khamenei set the tone for flexibility on interactions with the rest of the world when he orated, “As long as red lines are not crossed … artful and heroic flexibility in all the political arenas are accepted.” Many observers in Iran interpreted this as support for Rouhani’s synergetic foreign policy.
Another, perhaps more likely, explanation to Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks is that they were a message to the West not to miss this opportunity to make a deal with Rouhani. A former Iranian diplomat suggested — in confidence — that Ayatollah Khamenei’s remarks were a message to the West: “If you miss this opportunity, you’ll have to deal with me [Ayatollah Khameni] ,” and in fact, this is the Iranian government's way. Rouhani represents an opportunity to reach diplomatic compromise on multiple fronts with Iran.
Rouhani’s political credentials are unique. Since he has served as the secretary of the SNSC for 16 years — he spent eight years as the head of parliament's foreign policy committee, and he was Iran’s chief negotiator from 2003 until 2005 — he understands both foreign policy and the Iranian nuclear crisis.
The breadth of his experience in navigating Iran’s politics and the confidence that the nezam (political system) has in him is unmatched, placing him in a unique position to negotiate with Iran’s supreme leader and members of Iran’s SNSC — as well as with foreign powers. The voluntary suspension of the uranium enrichment between 2003 and 2005 happened thanks to Rouhani’s negotiations with actors both inside and outside of Iran.
Many Western officials believe that Rouhani’s election does not equate, or even allow for, change in Iran’s policies because ultimately the supreme leader makes decisions. However, Iran’s supreme leader is not immune from the influence of the people around him — which is a human trait — and cannot ignore his citizens’ desire for change, evidenced by millions of votes for their country’s sitting president.
Shahir ShahidSaless is a political analyst and freelance journalist, writing primarily about Iranian domestic and foreign affairs. He lives in Canada. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Education in Kurdistan Suffers Over Oil Row With Baghdad
By Armando Cordoba
Currently, there are 1.6 million students enrolled in public schools, with the enrollment rate increasing by 130,000 students per year. Photo: Education Dept.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan does not have the money for 500 schools it needs to build, its education minister says, while more than a quarter of the population remains illiterate and nearly 30 percent has only finished primary school.
Asmat Muhamad Khalid says in the most recent edition of the The Review of Kurdistan that building the 500 schools requires $10 billion in extra costs that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) does not have.
“Our current budget allocation obviously does not cover that amount,” Khalid says in the interview.
The KRG has been hard hit by an oil dispute with Baghdad. While the autonomous Kurds insist they have the right to govern their own natural resources Baghdad claims it is the sole governing body to make oil decisions.
KRG officials say that this year Baghdad cut the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget from the 17 percent outlined in the budget to only 10.4 percent, and blame Baghdad’s anger over the oil row as the reason.
A KRG report of about a year ago said that 26.3 percent of Kurdistan’s five million population – 12 and over – remains illiterate. According to the Ministry of Education it now stands at about 23 percent, and the rate of citizens with no educational certification beyond primary school stands at 29.7 percent for the three-provinces of Kurdistan.
This means on average about one out of every three Kurdish citizens from the age of 12 and over cannot read and does not have an educational certificate.
Because of the hamstrung education system -- and decades of wars and conflict that devastated Iraqi Kurdistan -- many young Kurds are going without schooling, at a time when the self-rule region is experiencing an economic boom and needs an educated and skilled work force.
The planning ministry’s most recent Strategic Plan for education says that “limited capacity of buildings and inability to provide and retain educational opportunities... are a major challenge facing the advancement of education.”
“For 2013, $50 million were allocated by the Kurdistan Regional Government for the education sector, and Erbil got $13 million for education, which is 34 percent,” said Bakr Asan, the general director of education in the Kurdish capital.
He added that more than 140 schools were reconstructed with the money, which would also go to improve education in all of the Kurdistan Region.
Currently, there are 1.6 million students enrolled in public schools, with the enrollment rate increasing by 130,000 students per year.
The Strategic Plan for education calls for emphasis on developing curricula to help Kurdistan’s post-conflict society catch up where it has fallen behind.
“Great focus should be made to develop academic curricula at all levels, to keep these curricula abreast of the scientific developments, and to address the lack of supplies (libraries, laboratories, educational techniques etc.),” the plan says.
Another issue facing the Kurdistan Region is overcrowding in the universities, with some teachers saying classrooms of up to 65 students are hindering learning.
According to the education ministry more than 107,000 students sat for exams to graduate and move on to attend universities, a dramatic increase which the universities are unable to accommodate.
Dutch Minister: Divisions Over Syria Due to US Role Prior to Iraq Invasion
By Judit Neurink
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans. Photo by Judit Neurink
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Most Western countries are hesitant about military action against the Syrian regime because they remember the “fabricated” US evidence presented to the world prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans said.
“We see more restraint than 10 years ago on the issue of what has happened exactly,” Timmermans said in an interview in Erbil, referring to reports of a chemical weapons attack last month near Damascus.
“If no evidence was fabricated, then we would not see such a strong call now of politicians who want to know the facts for themselves,” he added.
His comments came as the administration of US President Barack Obama was seeking congressional approval prior to military action against the Damascus regime, in response to the August 21 chemical weapons attack.
Timmermans complained that countries like the Netherlands had suffered “a trauma” after backing the 2003 war against Iraq, based on evidence given by the United States to the UN Security Council ostensibly showing that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
No such arms were found in Iraq after the dictator was overthrown and it is widely acknowledged that the US administration had fabricated the evidence to justify an invasion.
But the Dutch minister warned against comparison’s to the Iraqi situation in 2003 and what is happening in Syria now.
“There was an American president who wanted a war, and now there is one that is trying to prevent one from happening. Then the question was whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction; now it looks as if they have been used.” Timmermans said, emphasizing that he did not oppose military action in Syria as such.
The Dutch minister was in Iraq as part of a four-country tour. In Baghdad he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari for talks on Syria and other issues. He later travelled to Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, whose calm and economic boom contrasts sharply with the violence swirling in the rest of Iraq.
In Baghdad Timmermans found the insecurity “almost tangible”during his short visit, and said human rights activists he met had voiced fears that the country could return to the harsh conditions under Saddam.
“There is still much to do. But nobody will say: Do give us Saddam back,” said Timmermans, who expressed overall satisfaction at the situation in Iraq.