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And public opinion under the Kurdistan Regional Government demands rule-of-law-based governance. But power is concentrated in the hands of the ruling parties and families, who perpetuate a nondemocratic, sultanistic system. These dynamics could foster instability in Kurdistan and its neighborhood, but could also provide a rare window of opportunity for democratization. The Kurdistan Region is a democratic parliamentary republic and has a presidential system wherein the President is elected by Parliament for a four-year term.
Each of these governorates is divided into districts, for a total of 26 districts. Each district is also divided into sub-districts. Each governorate has a capital city, while districts and sub-districts have 'district centers'. The Committee for implementing article defines the disputed territories as those areas Arabised and whose border modified between 17 July and 9 April Those areas include parts of four governorates of pre borders.
Disputed internal Kurdish—Iraqi boundaries have been a core concern for Arabs and Kurds, especially since US invasion and political restructuring in Kurds gained territory to the south of Iraqi Kurdistan after the US-led invasion in to regain what land they considered historically theirs.
Despite being landlocked, the Kurdistan Region pursues a proactive foreign policy, which includes strengthening diplomatic relations with Iran , Russia , United States and Turkey. Economy by sector GDP , . The Kurdistan Region has the lowest poverty rates in Iraq  and the stronger economy of the Kurdistan Region attracted around 20, workers from other parts of Iraq between and The economy of Kurdistan is dominated by the oil industry.
KRG -controlled parts of Iraqi Kurdistan contain 4 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. However, the KRG has estimated that the region contains around 45 billion barrels 7. In November , Exxon challenged the Iraqi central government's authority with the signing of oil and gas contracts for exploration rights to six parcels of land in Kurdistan, including one contract in the disputed territories, just east of the Kirkuk mega-field. Other mineral resources that exist in significant quantities in the region include coal , copper , gold , iron , limestone which is used to produce cement , marble , and zinc.
The world's largest deposit of rock sulfur is located just southwest of Erbil. In July , Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government signed an agreement by which Turkey will supply the KRG with refined petroleum products in exchange for crude oil. Crude deliveries are expected to occur on a regular basis. Due to the lack of a proper census , the exact population and demographics of Kurdistan Region are unknown, but the government has started to publish more detailed figures. The population of the region is notoriously difficult to ascertain, as the Iraqi government has historically sought to minimize the importance of the Kurdish minority while Kurdish groups have had a tendency to exaggerate the numbers.
Kurdistan has a religiously diverse population. The dominant religion is Islam , which is professed by the majority of Kurdistan Region's inhabitants. There is also a small number of Shia Feyli Kurds. In , the Kurdistan Regional Government enacted a law to formally protect religious minorities. Christianity is professed by Assyrians and Armenians. Yazidis make up a significant minority, with some , in ,  or , as of ,  The Yarsan Ahl-e Haqq or Kakai religion numbers around , adherents respectively;  these, like Yezidism, are sometimes said to be related to the pre-Islamic indigenous religion of Kurdistan.
A tiny ethno-religious community of Mandaeans also exists within the semi-autonomous region. The National Association of Jews from Kurdistan in Israel stated there is a small number of expatriate Jews in the Kurdistan Region, but no Jews remaining from original Jewish communities.
Mudhafaria Minaret in the Minare Park, Erbil. Widespread economic activity between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey has given the opportunity for Kurds in Turkey to seek jobs in the Kurdistan Region. A Kurdish newspaper based in the Kurdish capital estimates that around 50, Kurds from Turkey are now living in the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Region is hosting 1. There were about , in the area prior to with the rest arriving in as a result of unrest in Syria and attacks by the Islamic State.
Before the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government, primary and secondary education was almost entirely taught in Arabic. Higher education was always taught in Arabic. This however changed with the establishment of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region. The first international school, the International School of Choueifat opened its branch in the Kurdistan Region in Other international schools have opened and British International Schools in Kurdistan is the latest with a planned opening in Suleimaniah in September The Kurdistan Region's official universities are listed below, followed by their English acronym if commonly used , internet domain, establishment date and latest data about the number of students.
Iraqi Kurdistan has been investing in the growth of its human capital in general. The government's policies for the public sector have also had an impact on the private sector. However, the government has played a much smaller role in the private sector.
In Human Rights Watch reported that journalists in the Kurdistan Region who criticize the regional government have faced substantial violence, threats, and lawsuits, and some have fled the country. In Human Rights Watch found that some health providers in Iraqi Kurdistan had been involved in both performing and promoting misinformation about the practice of female genital mutilation.
Girls and women receive conflicting and inaccurate messages from media campaigns and medical personnel on its consequences. Although the Kurdish regional parliament has officially recognized ethnic minorities such as Assyrians , Turkmen , Arabs , Armenians , Mandaeans , Shabaks and Yazidis , there have been accusations of Kurdish discrimination against those groups.
The Assyrians have reported Kurdish officials' reluctance in rebuilding Assyrian villages in their region while constructing more settlements for the Kurds affected during the Anfal campaign. The Kurdish regional government has also been accused of trying to Kurdify other regions such as the Nineveh Plains and Kirkuk by providing financial support for Kurds who want to settle in those areas. While Kurdish forces held the city of Kirkuk , Kurdish authorities attempted to Kurdify the city.
Turkmen and Arab residents in Kirkuk experienced intimidation, harassment and were forced to leave their homes, in order to increase the Kurdish demographic in Kirkuk and bolster their claims to the city. Multiple Human Rights Watch reports detail the confiscation of Turkmen and Arab families' documents, preventing them from voting, buying property and travelling.
Turkmen residents of Kirkuk were detained by Kurdish forces and compelled to leave the city. Kurdish authorities expelled hundreds of Arab families from the city, demolishing their homes in the process. United Nations reports since have documented that Kurdish authorities and Peshmerga militia forces were illegally policing Kirkuk and other disputed areas, and that these militia have abducted Turkmen and Arabs, subjecting them to torture. According to demonstrators, the reason for the blocked protest was that Kurds in the Nahla Valley , mainly populated by Assyrians, encroached on land owned by Assyrians , without any action by courts or officials to remove the structures the Kurds built there.
Detainees were held for up to four months without any communication with their families. Relatives of these men and boys said that KRG and Iraqi forces didn't inform them of the places of their detained relatives and didn't facilitate any contact with them.
Human Rights Watch reported that Kurdistan Regional Government security forces and local police detained 32 unarmed protesters in Erbil on March 4, , at a peaceful demonstration against recent clashes in Sinjar. A police chief ordered one protester who was released to permanently leave Erbil , where he was living. While in detention, protesters were not allowed to contact with anyone or have access to a lawyer.
In , Assyrian activists Juliana Taimoorazy and Matthew Joseph accused the Kurdistan Regional Government of issuing threats of violence against Assyrians living in the area who protested its independence referendum. These accusations were later confirmed when the KDP-controlled provincial council of Alqosh issued a statement warning residents that they would face consequences for protesting the referendum. Due to the devastation of the campaigns of the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein and other former Iraqi regimes, the Kurdistan Region's infrastructure was never able to modernize.
After the safe haven was established, the Kurdistan Regional Government began projects to reconstruct the Kurdistan Region. Iraqi Kurdistan can be reached by land and air. This border gate can be reached by bus or taxi from airports in Turkey as close as the Mardin or Diyarbakir airports, as well as from Istanbul or Ankara.
Iraqi Kurdistan has two border gates with Iran, the Haji Omaran border gate and the Bashmeg border gate near the city of Sulaymaniyah. Iraqi Kurdistan has also a border gate with Syria known as the Faysh Khabur border gate. Iraqi Kurdistan has opened its doors to the world by opening two international airports.
There are at least 2 military airfields in Iraqi Kurdistan. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the political entity in Iraq. For the parts of Kurdistan incorporated into Iraq since , see Iraqi Kurdistan. Autonomous region of Iraq. Coat of arms. Kurdistan Region in dark red Disputed territories controlled by the Iraqi federal government in light red. Kurdish Sorani and Kurmanji Arabic . Arabic Armenian Assyrian Turkmen [a]. Kurds Assyrians Chaldeans Arabs Turkmens.
Kurd Kurdistani. Main article: Iraqi Kurdish Civil War. Main article: Disputed territories of Northern Iraq. Main article: Foreign relations of Kurdistan Region. Main article: Economy of Kurdistan Region. Further information: Religion in Kurdistan.
See also: List of universities in Kurdistan Region. Retrieved 30 August Rudolph Jr. Encyclopedia of Modern Ethnic Conflicts, 2nd Edition. July Retrieved 15 September Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Retrieved 31 August Government of the United Kingdom. August Khayyat Retrieved 24 December Iraqi Kurdistan in Middle Eastern politics. ISBN Lambert December Hadji September United States Institute of Peace. BBC News. Retrieved 28 August Rostami Bloomsbury Publishing.
O'Ballance The Kurdish Struggle, Ismael, Jacqueline S. Ismael Rudd Washington, D. The Guardian. Retrieved 20 September Iraqi News Agency in Arabic. Congressional Research Service: 2. Retrieved 2 August The Iran-Iraq War, Osprey Pub. A modern history of the Kurds 3rd ed. Stansfield Iraqi Kurdistan - Political development and emergent democracy. CiteSeerX Washington Institute.
Area - Comparative Invest in Kurdistan. Land Boundaries Google Earth Coordinates. Natural Resources Ministry of natural resources. Arable land: