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Dispatches from Kurdistan


Kurdish Herald brings you the latest up-to-date news from Iraqi Kurdistan regarding the 25 July 2009 elections


MONDAY, 27 JULY 2009


And finally... Election Day


Erbil, Kurdistan - After months of heated campaigning, posters, songs, and recriminations, Election Day arrived.  Two ballots, 24 political parties and coalitions, 5 presidential candidates, sweltering heat, with most everyone hoping for the victory of democracy.
In the early hours of election day, all submitted complains to the electoral commission dealt with the fact that some voters were not listed on the commission's rosters.  As the day progressed there were complaints about the ink used to mark voters' fingers, to which the commissioner, Faraj al-Haydari responded on Iraqi state television channel al-Iraqiyah shortly after noon by saying that the ink was imported from the UK and meets international standards.  As we got closer to the closing of polls at 6:00 PM, political slates asked for a one-hour extension of voting due to the excessive heat.  The commissioner approved the request and polls closed at exactly 7:00 PM.
Then came the time to count the votes, and, predictably, information mixed with rumor leaked out from various stations and the commission's headquarters.  These initial reports indicated that Newshirwan Mustafa's List for Change performed very well in Sulaymaniyah and its surrounding districts.  Additionally, Dr. Kamal Mirawdeli, a candidate for the Presidency of the region was, according to these initial reports, ahead of other candidates in Sulaymaniyah, including the incumbant, Pres. Masoud Barzani.
No official results have been released but it seems clear that Pres. Barzani will be reelected President of the region.  With respect to the parliamentary election, the lion's share of votes were received by the Kurdistan List and the List for Change.  The Islamists, who ran in alliance with leftist parties, seem to have lost approximately ten seats in this election.


Dispatch#11: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at



    KHerald - Photos





PM spot to go to PUK


Erbil, Kurdistan - Aso newspaper, a publication funded by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Barham Salih, today reported on its front page that the post of the Prime Minister of the KRG will go to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), quoting Iraqi President and PUK Secretary General Jalal Talabani. Al-Sharq al-Awsat has also reported this news.  The Kurdistan List, a coalition of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, will likely win most of the seats in the upcoming parliament, thus filling the highest post in the new government, that of Prime Minister.

The KRG was once split into two administartions, one in Erbil controlled by the KDP and another in Sulaymaniyah controlled by the PUK.  Since its partial unification, it has been headed by the current Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani, a member of the KDP politburo.  This time around, however, the coalition, provided they win enough seats, will apparently appoint a member of the PUK for the post.  Of all the possible choices for the job, the most likely is Iraq's current Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Barham Salih, who is the top candidate on the Kurdistan List.  This will be confirmed until weeks after the elections.  For now, the various lists working to make the most of the last few hours of approved campaigning. 


Dispatch#10: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at




Kurdistan's Elections - Campaigning enters its final stages


Erbil, Kurdistan - Late last night in Erbil's Christian Ainkawa district, supporters of the Kurdistan List who had just left the Zakaria Abdullah concert were now waking up all of the city with their honks and cheers, all the while waving poster of President Barzani and the Kurdistan List, 12 and 54 respectively.  At the main intersection in Ainkawa, the music was blasting, with Aziz Waysi and other Kurdish artists were urging voters to cast their votes for 12 and 54.  A friend from Sulaymaniyah called and reported a sizzling environment where the List for Change and Kurdistan List, if measured by how much music they play, seem neck and neck.  It's not very different in Dohuk as we approach the big day, as friends and relatives were reporting of very loud election music through much of the morning.  All of this should come to a screeching halt tomorrow night, 48 hours before the elections, as the Electoral Commission does not allow campaigning to take place within 48 hours of voting.  The ballots have been printed and delivered.  According to the Metro newspaper, a daily publication of the Institute of War and Peace Reporting, stated that the ballots were printed in China and an extra 2 million copies were produced.  The Electoral Commission is using all media outlets - newspapers, TV channels, radio stations - and posters to announce voting locations, acceptable forms of identification and other important election informations.  In the meantime, the commission continues to deal with complaints of violations including the hanging of posters on mosques, government buildings and public property, and the tearing down of posters by opponents.  A friend at the Electoral Commission here in Erbil told me that, while some citations have been issues to a number of lists, the elections are, by and large in accordance with the law, largely due to the media's role in monitoring the electoral lists' behavior.  Rudaw newspaper showed a photo of a large Services and Reform List poster on a mosque entrance in Erbil, a clear violation of the law.  Posters supporting the Kurdistan List and Pres. Massoud Barzani have appeared on military checkpoints and public property.  Many newspapers and magazines have been reporting such tactics by virtually all lists for weeks, a clear testament to the advancement of the democratic process here.  There is a lot of passion all around, and that passion intensifies with each passing day, and it is accompanied by the hope that it will not lead to violence involving supporters of the competing slates.


Dispatch#9: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at


FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2009


List for Change finds religion?


Erbil, Kurdistan - As Election Day approaches, emotions are running high and campaigning seems to get more intense with each day. In Sulaymaniyah, election-related acts of violence have been reported.


Using religion in election campaigns is not new in post-Saddam Iraq. Religious references, and even verses from the Qur'an, have been used in past Iraqi elections. Until recently, no Kurdish list has adopted this technique. However, the List for Change has recently begun using the eleventh verse of the thirteenth Surah of the Qur'an in campaign propaganda, presumably in an attempt to gain votes from religious voters. This verse reads:


إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ


Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition.

Al-Ra’ad (The Thunder) 13:11


The List for Change is now using the above verse on their TV station, KNN, and in their daily newspaper, Rojname, and is featuring it in a number of posters which have started to appear in public places.


The head of the List for Change, Newshirwan Mustafa, has historically associated himself with left-leaning, staunchly secular movements.  Long before forming the List for Change, he was the founder of Komalayi Renjdarani Kurdistan (Kurdistan Proletariat Society), which was initially known as the Leninists and Marxists Community, which later merged with other Sulaymaniyyah-based left-leaning nationalists to form the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).  As one might expect from a left leaning politician or thinker, he has been fairly unambiguous about his negative attitude toward religion, and specifically Islam, in the past.


In an interesting development, Malla Krekar, the Norway-based Kurdish terrorist ideologue, has called upon secular voters in Kurdistan to vote for the List for Change and for the Islamists to support the Iran-backed Islamic Movement.  Malla Krekar formerly led the Ansar al-Islam terrorist organization, which was based in Iraqi Kurdistan near the Iranian border prior to being crushed in 2003 by a joint American-Kurdish military operation.


Religion and religious rhetoric is beginning to play an interesting role in Kurdistan's elections.  While the historically secular Newshirwan Mustafa's list is using a Qur'anic verse as campaign propaganda, Kurdistan's largest Islamist party, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) has joined ranks with two leftist groups, the Socialists and the Toilers, to form the Service and Reform list.  How effective these unexpected moves will be remains to be seen.


Dispatch#8: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at


FRIDAY, 17 JULY 2009


Kurdistan's Elections - how it will work


Erbil, Kurdistan - In just over a week, all all legal residents of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq over the age of 18 will have the right to head to the polling stations and cast their votes on two separate ballots, one for the 111-member Kurdistan Parliament and one for the President of the region.  In the parliamentary elections, there are twenty four slates competing for 111 seats, while for the presidency there are five individuals, including the incumbent, Pres. Massoud Barzani.  Election Day will be a regional holiday, accompanied by a number of restrictions made for security reasons.  All wishing to vote must do so on foot as personal vehicles and taxis will be forbidden to operate that day from dawn to the time the polls close.  Voters must be pre-registered with the electoral commission, and, after voting, they must dip their right index fingers in purple ink to prevent repeat voting.  American, EU and UN observers, in addition to electoral commission operators, will supervise the elections.  After all the votes are counted, the electoral commission, after reviewing any complaints, will certify the results.  The certified results, on the basis of some 1.5 million eligible voters, will be used to distribute parliamentary seats amongst the winners.  Each political slate has already submitted a list of candidates.  For example, the first name on the Kurdistan List is Dr. Barham Salih.  If we assume for the sake of explanation that the Kurdistan List receives 60 seats, Dr. Salih, along with the next 59 people on his list, will become members of parliament.  In the event that Barham Salih takes a post in the government or keeps his current post in Baghdad, then the 61st person on the Kurdistan List will become an MP.  For the presidency, the winner will be decided by simple majority.


Dispatch#7: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at




Dohuk prepares for Election Day


Dohuk, Kurdistan - In Dohuk, as is the case in all of Iraqi Kurdistan, the elections are the talk of town, they dominate the tea shops as much as they dominate the newspapers and the evening news. Campaign propaganda is ubiquitous as Election Day draws nearer. That said, in Dohuk the feeling is a little bit more benumbed relative to Sulaimaniyah and Erbil. The overwhelming majority of the posters and banners read 54 and 12, the Kurdistan List and President (and presidential candidate) Massoud Barzani respectively. As was done in past elections, the electoral commission has assigned numbers for the various slates and candidates, it is for that reason that the campaigning focuses on the numbers as much as it does on the images, names and photos. Dohuk has a large Christian community, many of whom are campaigning for the various Chaldo-Assyrian lists and coalitions. Aside from the Kurdistan List and the Chaldo-Assyrian lists, there is some campaigning being done for the Service and Reform list, known locally as the "Four Parties List." The Kurdistan Islamic Union, a member of the Four Parties List, has historically had some support among certain elements of the population. Newshirwan Mustafa's List for Change is largely absent in Dohuk, despite having an office here. It remains to be seen if rumors of increased campaigning for the List for Change outside of Sulaimaniyah will occur as the big day approaches.


In related election news, the List for Change, which is running only for parliament has recently announced, through its newspaper Rojnama, that it will boycott the presidency vote altogether. Previously the List for Change also announced that it believes that out of country votes should have been counted in this election.


Dispatch#6: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at




Sulaymaniyah – the heartland of change?


Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan - As the big day approaches, election-related propaganda is ubiquitous in Kurdistan. In Erbil, posters for the Kurdistan List dominate, though posters for the Turkmen and Christian lists are scattered throughout the city, with the latter having a naturally strong presence in the Ainkawa district. Newshirwan Mustafa’s List for Change does not seem to have a great deal of support in the KRG’s administrative capital.


In Sulaymaniyah, the situation could not be more different. The Kurdistan List has a number of posters placed strategically throughout the city, and here, unlike in Erbil, they are most often bearing the face of Dr. Barham Salih. One common poster shows him giving a “thumbs up” sign, and another shows him standing with a crowd of refugees and bears the slogan “Barham for everyone”. However, for every Kurdistan List poster that appears, it seems that one or more can be found supporting the List for Change. The dark blue posters and flags are everywhere, and support for the movement seems strong. Sulaymaniyah, which has been known for many years as a PUK stronghold, seems to be the heartland of a new movement.


Judging by the last two nights’ events on Salim Street, one of the main roads in the city, List for Change supporters are energetic and committed. Last night, crowds of motorcycles and cars of all shapes and sizes drove up and down the road waving List for Change flags and posters, beeping their horns and saluting one another, and sometimes chanting slogans. For every car baring pro-Kurdistan List propaganda on Salim Street, at least 15 or 20 can be found supporting the List for Change. An outside observer could be forgiven for assuming that Sulaymaniyah is the capital of a one party state which is governed by Newshirwan Mustafa and his allies. Last night’s impromptu parade seemingly had some immediate effects, as tonight the police have blocked one full side of the four lane street and also kept cars from turning around. Nonetheless, List for Change supporters were still out in full force this evening, and are driving around even now, past midnight, honking their horns. Police were stationed in various places along the road tonight, and some carried full riot gear. One group of police supervised a group of List for Change supporters standing on the side of the road who enthusiastically waved their banners and posters. As one of the few cars bearing Kurdistan List posters drove by them, the crowd booed loudly.


One taxi cab driver at the scene spoke disapprovingly of the energetic manifestations of support for this new list, but nonetheless said that he would vote for the List for Change, stating, "I am with the List for Change, my family is with the List for Change, but these people do not know how to act." He predicted a victory for the List for Change in Sulaymaniyah, stating that "80% of people here support the list". Another cab driver loudly played the List for Change radio station as I sat next to him and beeped his horn when a car flying a List for Change flag drove by, saluting the driver each and every time.


Given the enthusiasm of the List for Change supporters here in Sulaymaniyah, it is difficult to remember that there are still a few weeks between today and the election. It seems almost certain that this city is the real election battleground, and it remains to be seen what change lies ahead.


Dispatch#5: by Jeff Allan

(Jeff Allan reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him by e-mailing Kurdish Herald using our contact form)




Michael Rubin, The Beltway’s Kurdish “Expert” Is Now A Freedom Fighter


Erbil, Kurdistan - OPINION - With an apparent spiteful pen, Michael Rubin wrote an article last week in the Daily Star under the title, “Kurdish Leaders Are Drunk with Power.” Rubin writes that what he sees as inevitable fraud in the upcoming Kurdish elections that will lead to Iran-style protests following the release of the results. We have not even had the elections and here is Michael Rubin envisioning chaos in the only part of Iraq that has consistently been chaos-free since the liberation of Iraq in 2003.


Perhaps it is finally time to expose Michael Rubin for what he really is not and that is, an “expert” on Kurdish affairs, something by which he is erroneously known. Michael Rubin does not speak, read nor write Kurdish, yet he consistently makes references to Kurdish publications as if he monitors them. Rubin has not been to Iraqi Kurdistan since long before the liberation, when he was here, he served as a lecturer at two of Kurdistan’s public universities; strangely enough, both the staff and students with whom Rubin worked have told me that he spent far more time complaining about his living conditions and imaginary issues of privacy (he thought his email was being hacked) than he did teaching or learning the complex landscape that is Kurdish politics.


Over the past few years, Rubin has published dozens of articles in which he criticizes the Kurdistan Regional Government for, among other claims, support for the PKK, corruption, and dictatorial governance. He has gone as far as equating Kurdish leaders to regional dictators and in one instance, he even disgraces the Anfal victims by saying that the actions of the KRG has made the Anfal genocide less significant. It is incomprehensible to any person with respect for human life how 182,000 innocent lives could ever be made less significant in anyone's memory. Clearly insensitive to Kurds' history of hardships under the Ba'athist regime, it becomes difficult to accept any of Rubin's works regarding the Kurds as objective or even free from hatred.


As he usually does as a public integrity commissioner, Rubin says that the KRG is corrupt and throws his usual, “millions of dollars,” while failing to provide any evidence to back his claims. He goes on to imply that there is an absense of free media in Kurdistan as oppose to the rest of Iraq. Rubin makes this baseless claim while the heads of independent media organizations in Kurdistan (such as Awene) themselves have openly stated in interviews that media in Kurdistan have better working conditions and enjoy greater press freedom than the rest of Iraq as a result of the region's longer tradition of democracy and civil society.


In his writing, Michael Rubin goes on to claim that oppositional leader, Newshirwan Mustafa, has joined forces with the former secretary general of the KDP to form the Change List. Sadly, it appears that the Daily Star has dismissed it's fact-checking team when it comes to Kurdistan. Newshirwan Mustafa who campaigns mostly in Sulaymaniyah and the surrounding areas, does not have any KDP partners with the former post of Secretary General; this is probably because the KDP has no such title in its bylaws, but I guess anything goes when it comes to Michael Rubin.


Rubin says that the people of Kurdistan refer to Barzani and Talabani and their immediate relatives as “little Saddams,” and goes on to offer a suggestion that “little Rafsanjanis” is more accurate. It is of no surprise that his apparent neglect of journalistic practices have caused him to make yet another claim that he blatantly fails to provide sources for. As somebody who frequently visits this region and speaks with individuals that identify with all different political creeds, I have never heard such references from the people.


However, it is not accidental that Rubin is making such claims; he wants to equate the Kurdish leaders with Iranian leaders so that somehow people can begin thinking of this region as just another Iran. There was a time when people like Rubin helped set the discourse, but that time is long gone and he knows it better than all of us.


Iraqi Kurdistan is an American friendly region where Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen and others live side by side in a safe and prosperous area of Iraq. All of the Western observers, including friends of Rubin’s confirm that claim, but for unfathomable reasons, Michael Rubin does not want to take off his blinders even when his bosses in Turkey have begun to realize that a partnership with Iraqi Kurdistan makes more sense than a rivalry.


Rubin concludes his awkward opinion piece by taking off his hat as a writer and putting on one where he is a freedom fighter and urges Iraqi Kurds to stand up for liberty as their Iranian brethren have last month. That call would have more weight if Iraqi Kurds did not know who Rubin was.


So, such is the sad reality of cheerleaders of chaos; perhaps a dispatch from Ankara telling him to stop harassing the Kurds and start providing some useful insight would do the job.


Dispatch#4: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at




The List For Change


Erbil, Kurdistan - I woke up to a nasty dust storm today where visibility is near zero and the environment is yellow; all one sees are layers upon layers of dust. The people here tell me that these sand storms are a new phenomena for Erbil; a few years ago, it would be unheard of for Erbil to come to a screetching halt because of a storm, these days, however, these storms visit us regularly.


But somewhere through the layers of dust, one can still see banners calling upon voters to vote for this or that political slate.


A couple of hours drive (depending on which route you take) away from Erbil is another Kurdish city where all eyes are on the election campaigning, Sulaymaniyah. "Suli" was once, and to some degree continues to be, the center of Kurdish culture. It is in Sulaymaniyah where the first university in Iraqi Kurdistan was established (later relocated to Erbil) and it is there where opposition to the Ba’athist regime was consistently fierce to the point where the regime was unable to Arabize the education system. But perhaps the most important event in the modern history of Sulaymaniyah was the establishment of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in 1975, this political entity was a coalition of a number of mostly leftist political groups that came together under the leadership of the PUK Secretary General and current Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, known across Kurdistan simply as “Mam Jalal” (Uncle Jalal).


Once, one of Mam Jalal’s closest associates and a one-time deputy is a man named Newshirwan Mustafa, a gray-haired, 65-year old lifetime leftist who defected from the PUK in late 2006 and established a media organization named "Wisha" with a newspaper (Rojname), a TV channel (Kurdish News Network-KNN), a radio station (Dengi Gorran), a printing press and a publishing house; all courtesy of the financial package given to him by the PUK at the time of his resignation. Earlier this year, Newshirwan who seemed to have left politics for bigger and better things launched a campaign and registered it with the electoral commission as the “List for Change”.


It seems that I cannot escape slogans and posters of “change”; late last year, it was then Senator Obama while I was in the states, and now it is Newshirwan while I am in Kurdistan. The problem for the latter is that he has, in my opinion, a very weak chance of winning a considerable amount of votes because he is part of the old establishment. Secondly, the man operates within a very limited geographic area; to the vast majority of Iraqi Kurds, especially in the areas outside Sulaymaniyah, Newshirwan Mustafa is known as a former PUK leading-member who has had almost no activity outside of Sulaymaniyah.


But his supporters are loud and the campaigning is heated.


More later...


Dispatch#3: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at


FRIDAY, 03 JULY 2009


The "Heart of Kurdistan" is Bleeding


Erbil, Kurdistan - One day after the Americans left the cities in Iraq, a blast in a Kurdish neighborhood in Kerkuk killed 33 people and wounded almost three times as many. As we approach the regional elections, scheduled for July 25, of which the people of Kerkuk will not partake, one question seems to be on the mind of many Kerkukis. Yesterday at lunch, a Kerkuki friend of mine reminded me of a saying with which all Iraqi Kurds grow up, "Kerkuk is the heart of Kurdistan." The heart of Kurdistan was subjected to a lengthy and aggressive series of policies of attrition which resulted in drastic changes of demographics, leading Iraq's new leaders to constitutionally commit the state of Iraq to undoing the injustice that occurred to the people of Kerkuk (Note: Kurdish Herald's July issue will cover this topic). However, despite a constitutional commitment which calls for a governorate-wide referendum, things in Kerkuk continue to be filled with uncertainties. In the recent local election in Iraq, the people of Kerkuk were excluded from voting and as KRG-administered governorates prepare for an election, Kerkuk is excluded once again.

The security situation in Kerkuk is slightly better than that of Musil's, but perhaps as bad as Baghdad's. Despite the fact that it sits on almost 20% of Iraq's known oil reserves, municipal services in Kerkuk are horrendous. The streets are dirty, security is horrible and most importantly people simply do not know when the situation will improve in Kerkuk. Insofar as the people of Kerkuk are concerned, that injustice is ongoing and despite all the moral and legal commitments to fix their status, things continue to be hanging in the air.

The implementation of article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution should be on the next government's top priorities, that is the consensus here. Alternative ways of solving the problem of Kerkuk should not be accepted; that too is a consensus here, among the competing slates. The consensus seems to be one among the constituents in Kurdistan as well, and certainly will be influencing their choice in the upcoming elections. Voters say they expect that the next elected leaders put words to action and finally resolve the decades-old problem of Arabization of one of Kurdistan's most important cities.

The Constitution of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a proposal waiting to be voted on, includes Kerkuk as part of the Kurdistan Region. However, as far as the people of Kerkuk are concerned, that transition from paper to reality is a six-year-old dream that continues to frustrate them.

Although the constituents live outside of Kerkuk, the parliamentary candidates for the upcoming elections all have Kerkuk atop their agendas because they know that that old saying of "Kerkuk is the heart of Kurdistan" is not something that the people of this region take lightly.


Dispatch#2: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at




July 25th Elections


Erbil, Kurdistan - The residents of Iraqi Kurdistan are a mere 25 days away from parliamentary and presidential elections where 111 seats and the post of the President of the Region are up for grabs. The campaigning is on and is getting heated by the day. All newspapers, magazines and TV stations lead the newscasts with elections-related news. Everywhere one goes, posters and banners serve as a reminder that these elections are a monumental event in the history of this region.


It was not too long ago when the two main political parties, KDP and PUK ran separate administrations in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah respectively, today the two parties are running on a joint list, the Kurdistan List, and their campaign is being led by Dr. Barham Salih who seems to have taken a leave-of-absence from his post as Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq. The Kurdistan List is opposed by tens of other political slates, but at the forefront of the opposition to the incumbent list is the List for Change. The List for Change is led by Nawshirwan Mustafa, the former deputy to the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.


The two main Islamist parties, along with two left-leaning political parties are running on a coalition-slate called, "Service and Reform". The Service and Reform slate is known as the Four Parties List, a coalition of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, Komalai Islami, The Kurdistan Socialist Party and the Kurdistan Toilers Party. The communists have another leftist coalition; they too call for reform.


The Presidency on the other hand is being competed for by five individuals, including the incumbent President Masoud Barzani, the other candidates are: Halo Ibrahim Ahmad, Kamal Mirawdali, Hussein Garminai and Safeen Sheikh Mohammad. The president will be directly elected by the people of the region.


I hope that these dispatches will be of benefit to the readers of Kurdish Herald; we intend, as always, to bring you exclusive news and analysis.


Dispatch#1: by Vahal A. Abdulrahman

(Vahal A. Abdulrahman reports from Iraqi Kurdistan; you can reach him at


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