The escalating tensions between Baghdad and Erbil have triggered an unprecedented upsurge in applications from wealthy Iraqi nationals for second citizenship programs.
Data collected by Savory & Partners, one of the largest companies in the Middle East that provides citizenship-by-investment programs, shows that compared to the same quarter last year, interest has increased by 300 percent, while applications processed are more than 42 percent higher than last year.
Company founder and CEO Jeremy Savory (pictured) told Iraq Business News:
“The immediate days following the Kurdistan referendum saw a remarkable spike in the number of applicants from Iraq, not only from Kurdish Iraqis, but from all parts of Iraq.
“In the past, the Iraqi passport was very strong … but over recent years the number of countries which have visa-free waivers has dropped considerably; hence, the need for second passport that enables people to travel to more countries visa free has seen a great spike.
“We have done Iraqi citizenship applications for Iraqi nationals for all the five Caribbean jurisdictions, all of which have been approved by the government. We have done European citizenship applications for Malta and Cyprus for Iraqi nationals, too.”
Iraqis constitute the company’s third largest client group after Syrians and Lebanese, with St. Kitts, Grenada and Dominica in the three most popular programs with an equal demand for all three programs. The company had only one Iraqi rejection in the last six years out of total of close to 800 passports, a rejection rate of less than 1 percent.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Tuesday that it would accept a Supreme Court decision prohibiting the region from seceding from Iraq.
It said in a statement:
“At the request of the Secretary General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers on November 5th, 2017, the Federal Supreme Court issued Decision No. 122 on November 6th, 2017, regarding the interpretation of the Article 1 of the Iraqi Constitution which states: ‘The Republic of Iraq is a federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is parliamentary and democratic republic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.’
“As we, in the Kurdistan Region, have always emphasized on finding solutions to disputes between the federal Authorities and the Kurdistan Region through constitutional and legal means, and based on our known position which welcomes all relevant initiatives, especially the initiatives by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al- Sistani, Iraqi dignitaries and friendly countries to the Iraqi people regarding addressing disputes on the basis of the Constitution, we respect the interpretation of the Federal Supreme Court of the First Article of the Iraqi Constitution.
“We believe that this Decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq, as Article 1 stated.“
Tourism in Iraqi Kurdistan has reportedly been hard hit following Baghdad imposed punitive measures on the Kurdistan Region following the independence referendum.
Many restaurants and guesthouses in Erbil have had to lay off employees after international flights were banned and the borders temporarily closed.
According to Rudaw, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had planned to invest in modern infrastructure and build hundreds of new tourist attractions across the Region, spending an estimated $100 million over the coming years to revive and develop an industry which many believed would be profitable in the long-run.
As Iraq and Kurdistan are faced with grave and dangerous circumistances, we are all obliged to act responsibily in order to prevent further violence and clashes between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces.
Attacks and confrontations between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces that started on October 16, 2017, especially today’s clashes, have caused damage to both sides and coud lead to a continuous bloodshed, inflicting pain and social unrest among different components of Iraqi society.
Certainly, continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life.
Therefore, in order to fulfill our responsibilites and obligations towards the people of Kurdistan and Iraq, we propose the following to the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi and world public opinion:
Immediate ceasefire and halt all military operations in the Kurdistan Region.
Freeze the results of referendum conducted in the Iraqi Kurdistan.
Start an open dialogue between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraqi Federal Government on the basis of the Consititution.
By Dr. Olgu Okumuş for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
On Sept. 28, when Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jointly stated their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, they also made a point of stressing their countries’ continued commitment to two joint mega energy projects: the Turkish Stream gas pipeline and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant.
The success of these projects would diminish the importance of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as a regional economic actor, pushing the significance of its oil and gas resources into the background.
Given the KRG’s apparent hope to leverage such resources as part of a continued drive for independence — a drive Erdogan has said would lead to “even more serious mistakes” by the KRG — Erdogan and Putin’s joint statements are worthy of increased scrutiny.
This was the second visit by the Russian leader to Turkey since the improvement in relations that has taken place after ties suffered a major blow when Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet in November 2015. Putin’s first visit, in October 2016, was also energy-inspired, as it occurred at Erdogan’s invitation to participate in the 23rd World Energy Congress.
Last week’s meeting was labeled a “solely pragmatic meeting” by the Kremlin, because it covered several essential bilateral trade issues, such as Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system, Russia’s embargo on Turkish tomatoes and the two countries’ joint energy projects. At the leaders’ press conference, they stressed their discussions on energy projects, while also commenting on international security issues such as Syria and the KRG independence referendum.
Turkey needs a cooler relationship with the KRG. Since January 2013, the Turkish-British joint venture Genel Energy’s truck-based deliveries from the KRG have been bypassing the Baghdad-controlled Kirkuk-Yumurtalik oil pipeline; the oil has instead been going to Turkey’s Ceyhan port on the Mediterranean Sea. This had already prompted concerns about the KRG’s drive for economic and political independence, and pushed Ankara into the middle of an international diplomatic crisis.
This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
In Baghdad, the Kurdish referendum has dominated all other official proceedings. Lack of progress on electoral laws means federal elections could be postponed – again.
The controversial Iraqi Kurdish referendum on independence has also had a divisive impact on politics in Baghdad. For one thing it has ended the historic alliance between the Kurdish politicians and their Shiite Muslim counterparts in Baghdad. But perhaps more importantly, it is preventing the passage of important legislation and the efficient running of the Iraqi parliament.
In Iraq, a new set of legislation is drafted for each election. The Iraqi parliament started planning for this two months ago but have not managed to achieve much.
Between September 16 and November 9, the parliamentary agenda had tabled an ongoing discussion of a new series of laws related to provincial and federal elections, slated to be held in April 2018. MPs were also supposed to be nominating new members for the Independent High Electoral Commission, or IHEC, the body tasked with overseeing elections in Iraq.
“Three weeks before the referendum, there had been progressive talks and we had reached a preliminary agreement,” Hassan Turan, the MP for the Turkmen Front from Kirkuk, told NIQASH. “But the referendum crisis has delayed further talks and everyone got obsessed with that issue.”
In fact, the last five meetings of MPs have focused almost solely on what to do about the referendum and ignored the electoral laws that will be needed early next year.
In one particularly lively session on September 25, the same day the referendum on Kurdish independence was held, dozens of politicians made passionate speeches about the subject. At the end of the session, the MPs voted to ask the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, to deploy federal troops in the northern city of Kirkuk and other “disputed territories” – these are areas the Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi Arabs have been fighting over for years.
By Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Up until the last day before the Sept. 25 Kurdish independence referendum, Iran was still dealing with the event with a sense of disbelief and with the misconception that it would be called off at the last moment.
The assumption was that the de facto head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, was only maneuvering to negotiate a better deal with the central government in Baghdad with respect to the region’s autonomy — on both the political and the economic side.
Iran thought that Barzani was looking for Iranian-Turkish support for future talks, while already having an American green light to escalate to the edge of the abyss, and that things would then be better.
This was the case when Iranian Chief of General Staff Mohammad Bagheri visited Ankara and met with high-level Turkish officials and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in August. And even when Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani visited Iraqi Kurdistan to convince the Kurdish leadership to “delay the vote,”
Tehran was still dealing with the whole story from a perspective that could easily be described as one of denial. This policy continued until the moment the Kurds announced that the referendum returned a big “yes,” with almost 93% of votes in favor of independence.
Barzani had killer timing: The whole region is apprehensive of taking any step toward a new escalation, with crises already igniting in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Gulf. Therefore, it was clear to the Kurdish leader that it’s either now or never. Now that the referendum has been held, what are the dynamics that are to follow this historical change? And how is Iran as a nation — and its powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — going to deal with it?