Shifa Gardi reports on the war against ISIS near Mosul in February. Photo: Rudaw TV
Rudaw reporter and anchor Shifa Gardi who was reporting on the offensive to oust ISIS from Mosul was killed by an IED near Mosul on February 25. Her cameraman Younis Mustafa was injured in the same attack.
Shifa Zikri Ibrahim, also known as Shifa Gardi, was born a refugee in Iran on 1 July 1986. She was a graduate of the media department from Salahaddin University in Erbil. She started her media career in 2006, and was a valued member of the Rudaw Media Network team since its foundation.
Flag of Kurdistan raised over Kirkuk
The Flag of Kurdistan is raised alongside the Iraqi flag at the castle in Kirkuk. File photo: Rudaw
The Kurdistan flag was officially raised by the provincial government alongside the Iraqi one in the province of Kirkuk on March 20. The flag was raised at Kirkuk’s castle. This was the first time the Kurdistan flag was raised at the castle by a government official.
“Kurdistan’s flag is not only the flag of the Kurds. It is the flag of all the social makeup of Kirkuk. We tell those who want to instigate chaos: this flag is that of the Arabs and Turkmen, as well as the Kurds. It is the flag of Kurdistan which is a place for everyone,” said Kirkuk’s then-Governor Najmaldin Karim.
Turkish presidency strengthened by referendum; HDP MPs remain jailed
Osman Baydemir, HDP deputy representing Sanliurfa and party spokesperson, in parliament. Photo: HDP
By a narrow 51-49 margin on April 16, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) successfully passed constitutional amendments through a referendum to strengthen the presidency, allow the president to remain party leader, and permit Erdogan to effectively stay in power until 2029.
The pro-Kurdish HDP opposed the changes, even with its charismatic co-chair Selahattin Demirtas and his female counterpart Figen Yuksekdag jailed for months, along with more than a dozen HDP MPs and hundreds of party officials — most for alleged ties to the outlawed PKK, charges that they deny.
HDP spokesperson Osman Baydemir was barred from parliament in December for speaking the word Kurdistan. In July, the parliament adopted new guidelines that banned use of the terms “Kurdistan,” “Kurdish regions,” and “Armenian genocide.” The deputy parliament speaker asked Baydemir, “Where is Kurdistan?”
“It is here,” he replied, clapping his hand on his heart.
Gorran leader Nawshirwan Mustafa dies at 73 after long battle with illness
Longtime Kurdish political leader Nawshiran Mustafa led the Change Movement (Gorran). Photo: Rudaw
The leader of the Change Movement Nawshirwan Mustafa died at the age of 73 in Sulaimani on the morning of May 19 just a week after he returned to Kurdistan from the UK where he had received treatment for his illness.
He was a founding member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in 1976 with former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Mustafa and Talabani fell out in 2006 and he formed the Gorran movement. Mustafa’s Gorran movement introduced the first opposition party to the political landscape in the Kurdistan Region in 2009 after it won 25 seats in that year’s parliamentary elections.
He was buried at Gorran Headquarters in Sulaimani. Mustafa’s wife Shu’la Ali Saeed died in March. Mustafa has two sons, Nima and Chia, and a daughter Chira.
Rojava region holds local elections, sets parliamentary vote for January
Hadiya Yousif, co-chair of the founding council for the the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria casts her vote for local elections on September 22. Photo: ANHA
Syrian Kurdistan, also known as Rojava, held elections for communal representatives on September 22, the first such process since their announcement of the federal democratic region, despite objections from the Syrian regime, Russia, and the United States.
A second round of elections was held on December 1 for local councils. The Democratic Nation Solidarity List, which includes the ruling PYD, won large majorities of seats in all three regions that went to the polls.
The third and final stage of elections will take place in January for the body that will act like the region’s parliament.
The founding council of the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria decided to hold the elections and passed a set of regulations that set administrative boundaries and established the structure of the elected bodies.
The main opposition to the Rojava administration, the Kurdistan National Council (ENKS), called on people to boycott the process, declaring it illegitimate.
September 25: Kurdistan votes for independence
A man in Erbil hangs a 'Yes' for independence banner during the September campaign. Photo: Safin Hamed | AFP
Despite opposition from Baghdad, regional countries, and much of the international community, the Kurdistan Region held a historic referendum on independence on September 25. Of the ballots counted — including the Kurdish diaspora, disputed or Kurdistani territories such as Kirkuk, and those cast in the Kurdistan Region – 92.73 percent of people voted ‘Yes’ for independence.
Jalal Talabani, former Iraqi president and PUK leader, dies
Jalal "Mam" Talabani, co-founder of the PUK and Iraq's first Kurdish president. Photo: AP
Former Iraqi president and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Jalal Talabani passed away in hospital in Berlin, Germany, on November 3 at the age of 83.
Known affectionately by Kurds as Mam Jalal, meaning uncle, Jalal Hisamadin Talabani was born on November 12, 1933, in the village of Kalkan near Mount Kosrat. Talabani was married to Hero Ibrahim Ahmed. The couple has two sons: Qubad and Bafel.
Throughout his life he has been a journalist, Peshmerga, and politician. The PUK said he was “often seen as a unifying elder statesman who could soothe tempers among Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.”
Iraqi forces take Kirkuk, push Peshmerga back to 4 provinces
Smoke billows as Iraqi forces backed by Iran-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi advance towards the centre of Kirkuk during an operation against Kurdish fighters on October 16. Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye | AFP
Following Kurdistan’s referendum, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made good on his promises by deploying Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries to Kirkuk on October 16 and then to the Kurdistan Region’s provincial boundaries. Peshmerga clashed with the Shiite Hashd and Iraqi forces and tensions remain high at year’s end.
Iraq banned international airliners from flying to the Kurdistan Region’s two commercial airports, proposed a draft 2018 budget that cuts the KRG’s share by more than 4 percent, and wants to impose federal control at all international points of entry.
Loss of KRG exports of oil from Kirkuk to the global market reduced the Region’s revenues by about half.
Erbil said that it “respected” a ruling by an Iraqi federal court that Iraq is a parliamentary and democratic republic with the constitution as the guarantor of its unity, saying it could become the basis for dialogue. The dominate Shiite National Alliance countered, saying the KRG must “commit” to the court’s ruling.
Masoud Barzani steps down as president, remains a Peshmerga
Kurdistan's then but now former President Masoud Barzani delivers a speech during a rally in Erbil on September 22. Photo: Safin Hamed | AFP
Barzani announced he would not seek an extension of his term as president of the Kurdistan Region on November 1. He said in a letter to parliament that he would remain a Peshmerga, dedicated to protecting and strengthening Kurdistan.
The leader of the powerful KDP, Barzani was born in the short-lived Mahabad Republic in 1946.
“I was born there. I took arms when I was 16 years old. Imagine what this means for my legacy, all of my life has been for the independence of Kurdistan,” he told Foreign Policy magazine in an interview this year.
A nationalist at heart, he strongly campaigned in favor of the independence vote explaining that it is his mission to declare independence through the planned referendum which is “binding” and “its results must be implemented.”
Iraq proclaims ‘end of war against ISIS,’ initially omitting Peshmerga
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Mosul on July 9 to celebrate the military achievements against the ISIS group. Photo: PM media office
With “unprecedented coordination” Iraqi security and Kurdish Peshmerga forces supported by the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition successfully liberated Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul on July 7. Chief of General Staff of the Peshmerga forces, Jamal Iminiki, stood alongside Iraqi commanders representing the US-trained Counter Terrorism Service, the Federal Police, and the Iraqi army.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi proclaimed the defeat of ISIS militarily in Iraq on December 9, but initially omitted the contributions of the Peshmerga before issuing a correction.
ISIS overran much of Iraq in 2014, committing genocide against the Yezidi people and displaced more than a million Iraqis. More than 1,846 Peshmerga gave their lives in the ISIS fight and another 10,000 were wounded. Iraqi forces have not released their casualty figures.
Earthquake hits near Halabja, kills hundreds in Kermanshah
Survivors of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that hit the Kurdish city of Kermanshah in Iran sit on a pile of rubble. Photo: Bahman Shabazi | Rudaw
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the Iran-Kurdistan Region border on the evening November 12. The tremor was felt across the Middle East.
It was the deadliest earthquake of 2017, killing at least 620 people in Iranian Kurdistan and 10 in the Kurdistan Region, with thousands more injured.
In the Kurdistan Region, the earthquake affected some 640,000 people. The quake caused damage to the Darbandikhan dam.
Thousands across Kurdistan remain displaced, living in tents until their homes can be rebuilt. In particular, high rises in the Kurdish city of Kermanshah, Iran were destroyed and locals complained of Tehran’s insufficient humanitarian response.