Author: Kwestan Rezan

The primary purpose of Xi Jinping’s three-day visit to Hungary might be to ensure that Hungary can help China gain market share in the EU, as Beijing and Budapest prepare to sign a total of 16 bilateral agreements. The Chinese president has arrived in Budapest late Wednesday, in the third and last stop of his European visit. During his three-day stay, Xi Jinping and his delegation are expected to conclude a series of economic agreements with Budapest, as China sees Hungary as an important bridgehead in conquering European markets: among other things, Chinese companies are building electric car and battery factories.…

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Brussels (12/03 – 55.56) Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said that the dissolution of human rights NGOs signals a deteriorating environment for civil society and human rights defence in Tajikistan. She reiterated that Tajikistan must reconsider its attitudes towards civil society and view human rights defenders as allies instead of enemies. Earlier in November 2023, Tajikistan Minister of Justice announced that 700 NGOs in the country had been liquidated over an 18-month period. “Human rights defenders working on so-called sensitive issues, including freedom from torture, the right to housing and compensation for requisitioned land, minority rights, freedom of belief and good governance, political rights, and…

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Giant portraits of President Emomali Rahmon adorn even the most nondescript buildings in Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe. Throughout the country, his sayings are featured on posters and billboards. Their ubiquitous presence underscores the consolidation of power by Rahmon – officially described as “Founder of Peace and Unity, Leader of the Nation” – since he emerged victorious from the 1992-1997 Tajikistan civil war that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. After three decades in power, he has established himself as an absolute ruler with no tolerance for dissent. Rahmon’s bid to centralize control includes efforts to silence political opponents, human rights activists, and independent…

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A building in Erbil province’s Soran administration caught fire late on Friday. At least 14 people were killed and four others were injured, according to the local health directorate.  The building, initially reported to be a university dormitory, houses many lecturers and students of Soran University, but is not a part of the school. The fire, which initial reports indicate was caused by an electrical fault, was quickly extinguished, but many people did not make it out of the building alive. Fourteen people were killed and four others were injured and are in stable condition, Kamaram Mala Mohammed, head of…

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A senior delegation of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Bafel Talabani, on Saturday held a series of meetings with the leaders of Gorran, Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and Kurdistan Justice Group (Komal), highlighting the need for Kurdish unity in the face of challenges during the lead up to elections.The PUK and Gorran delegations discussed the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming parliamentary elections, problems paying civil servant salaries, and devising a “joint roadmap” for navigating Erbil-Baghdad relations, according to a joint statement from the parties.“Both sides agreed that the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] and the [Iraqi] federal government need to…

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Groups of artists from five countries specializing in various mediums, performed along with Kurdish and Iraqi groups at the Festival of Different Cultures, organized in Sulaimani’s town of Rania. The two-day festival started on Friday in Rania’s Darwaza Park and is set to resume its activities for the third day in the town of Koya in Erbil province. Khalid Qadir, head of Rayal Organization which organized the event, said the festival is a yearly tradition for Rayal. Qadir said that despite the currently dire political and economic situation in the Kurdistan Region, his organization deemed it a good idea to…

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The storage facility of Erbil province’s Harir air base housing US troops caught fire late Thursday after two suicide drones hit the base, according to local authorities and a pro-Iran militia group which claimed responsibility for the attack. According to footage submitted to Rudaw by locals, a fire broke out at the Harir air base which houses the US-led global coalition forces. The fire broke out at the air base’s fuel storage facility, a Harir civil defense department official told Rudaw, adding that “We are ready to act but we have yet to be authorised to go [to the air base] to…

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A fire broke out at an asphalt factory near Arbat town in the east of Sulaimani, killing one worker and injuring three others.  The fire started on Wednesday morning after a tanker carrying bitumen caught fire while trying to discharge its load in one of the storage units inside Zillion Oil Company’s industrial plant, according to Arbat mayor Daban Mohammed. Saman Nadir, head of Sulaimani Emergency Center (122), the city’s ambulance hotline, told Rudaw English that one person was killed in the fire and three others were severely injured. The fire has been burning for over 9 hours, mainly due…

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Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Sunday said that his government is serious about eradicating the threat of drugs, and called on the Kurdish and international community to cooperate with Erbil to eliminate the source of what he described as an “endemic” issue. “The Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] is seriously and widely working to eradicate and combat this dangerous threat [drug trafficking], as well as mobilizing all its efforts to prevent its spread,” said Barzani at the conference for combating drugs and psychotropic substances in Erbil. Barzani said that drugs are a dangerous tool used to oppose and weaken…

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The Kurdistan Region is greatly capable of increasing its gas production to a level that allows it to compete on global markets, said its deputy natural resources minister, urging for a clear model to invest into the gas sector.  “The Kurdistan Region has great capabilities to increase gas production and in turn increase the production of electricity,” Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Ahmed Mufti said during the the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) 2023 forum in Erbil, adding that 85 to 90 percent of the Region’s electricity comes from gas. MERI is holding a two-day forum…

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