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Iraqi Kurdistan

About the Kurdistan Regional Government 
The Kurdistan Region is a federated region in Iraq. Its main institutions are the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdistan Region Presidency, and the Kurdistan Parliament. As stipulated in Iraq’s federal constitution, Kurdistan’s institutions exercise legislative and executive authority in many areas, including allocating the Regional budget, policing and security, education and health policies, natural resources management and infrastructure development. 

Kurdistan Regional Government 
The democratically elected Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) exercises executive power according to the Kurdistan Region’s laws, as enacted by the Kurdistan Parliament. The current government, led by Prime Minister Barham Salih, assumed office on 28 October 2009. His Deputy is Mr Azad Barwari. 

The government coalition consists of several political parties, reflecting the diversity of the Region’s people, who are Kurds, Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriac, Yazidis and others living together in harmony and tolerance. The cabinet is made up of members of the Kurdistani List coalition, which won the region’s parliamentary elections in July 2009, together with other parties. The coalition government consists of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of urdistan (PUK), Kurdistan Islamic Movement, the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac Council, Turkmen representatives, Communists and Socialists. The government has 19 ministries. 

The KRG is based in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region. It administers the governorates of Erbil, Suleimaniah and Dohuk. The KRG’s vision and policies are outlined below. 

Kurdistan Region Presidency 
The Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP) was promulgated as an institution by the Kurdistan Parliament in 2005. The President of the Kurdistan Region has the highest executive authority. He or she is elected by secret ballot in a popular vote every four years and can stand for election for a second term. 

Mr Masoud Barzani, the current president, was elected as the Kurdistan Region’s first president on 31 January 2005 by the Kurdistan Parliament, and re-elected by secret popular ballot by the people of the Kurdistan Region in July 2009, with 70% of the vote. The Deputy President is Mr Kosrat Rasul Ali. The President’s secretariat, called the Diwan, is headed by the Chief of Staff. 

The President represents the people of Kurdistan at national and international levels and oversees relations and coordination between the Region and the Iraqi federal authorities. He also represents the people of Kurdistan at Iraq’s Political Council for National Security, and in negotiations and consultations with other parties in Iraq. He is responsible for approving the KRG Prime Minister’s special appointments and promotions, and for ratifying all laws passed by the Kurdistan parliament. He has the power to return once only for further debate and amendment any law passed by the Parliament.

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (31 December 2010) 
Safety and Security - The Kurdistan Region 

The three provinces of Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah form the Kurdistan Region and are administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government which, under the 2005 constitution, has considerable powers of autonomy within a federal Iraq. The Kurdistan Regional Government administered area has significantly greater stability, compared with the rest of Iraq. However, despite largely effective policies countering terrorism in the region, extremist Islamist terrorist groups including Al-Qaida in Iraq and Ansar al Islam have planned and carried out infrequent attacks in the past. A network of Iran-based Kurdish extremists, affiliated with Al-Qaida in Iraq mount occasional cross-border attacks. The threat of terrorism and kidnap remains. Terrorist operations, including in the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, have generally been conducted against Kurdistan Regional Government targets.

On 10 March 2008 a suicide vehicle bomb exploded outside Sulaymaniyah Palace Hotel.

On 9 May 2007 a suicide vehicle bomb exploded outside the Ministry of Interior in Erbil. This was the first attack of its kind in Erbil in two years. In 2009 and 2010 a number of vehicle born explosive devices were intercepted on their way to Kurdistan by KRG border security police

Shelling in the border areas with Turkey and Iran in the Kurdistan Region still occurs. You should seek advice on the situation in these remote border areas before travelling there.

Safety and Security - Northern Iraq (Outside Kurdistan Region) 
Outside the Kurdistan Region, the security situation in northern Iraq remains highly dangerous and volatile. In Kirkuk and Mosul there are still frequent terrorist attacks, including suicide bomb attacks, vehicle bombs and shootings, which have led to many innocent bystanders being killed. There are also frequent kidnappings, which often result in the deaths of the victims. On 2 May 2010 a vehicle bomb in eastern Mosul targeting Christian students resulted in one death and 33 people injured. On 14 May 2010, a complex vehicle bomb and suicide vest attack targeted a football game in Tal Afar, killed 8 and left 128 wounded. Terrorists and insurgents remain active within Kirkuk and IED attacks targeting both Iraqi Security Forces and the local population occur frequently.

The threat to high profile individuals in the region also exists with a number of prominent Iraqis killed in Mosul over recent months including businessmen and civic personalities. On 24 May 2010, an MP was assassinated in Mosul.

What does the British Government say about travel to Iraqi Kurdistan? SEE BELOW