Ireland. According to Countryaah.com, Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced in March his departure as party leader for the Christian Democratic Party Fine Gael after 15 years in the post. He was replaced in early June by 38-year-old Leo Varadkar, who shortly thereafter also became the country’s head of government. Varadkar is the son of an Indian immigrant and openly gay.
In March, a mass grave with child remains was discovered at a Catholic orphanage in the town of Tuam north of Galway in the western part of the country. During the orphanage’s activities in 1925–61, an unknown number of children must have been buried anonymously. The orphanage was run by a nun who received unmarried women’s newborn children. The data confirm the 2014 suspicions of these maladministration. Then it was revealed that up to 800 children may have been buried there. The findings reveal that a “significant number” of childlike bodies have been found so far.
In February, Ireland introduced a law against sex purchases similar to the Swedish one: it targets the buyer, not the seller. In 1999 Sweden became the first country with this law, which was later followed by Canada, France, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Norway.
The tax dispute between the European Commission and Apple continued during the year. It was in August 2016 that the EU demanded that Apple pay EUR 13 billion plus interest to Ireland for paying too little tax. The issue remained unresolved for most of the year. It was not until October that the EU Commission and Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager decided to sue Ireland for failing to claim Apple on the tax. According to the Irish authorities, it will live up to the EU decision, but the actual sum is still being calculated.
At year-end, the number of issued Irish passports was over half a million. The majority of these went to Britons and Northern Irish who, after the Brexit vote in June 2016, have chosen to remain EU citizens.
Tropical storm Ophelia hit southern Ireland in mid-October. It was described as the worst in over 50 years. In 1961, twelve people died of Hurricane Debbie. Ophelia demanded three deaths.
In November, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney demanded that the UK solve the Northern Ireland-Ireland border problem before the Brexit. He wanted “serious and credible” answers from the British before talks started on future trade relations. In December, a first basic agreement was reached between the EU and the UK, which means that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland (the EU’s external border) will not have any fixed controls.
2017 RIP Kurdistan
In September, Iraqi Kurdistan conducted a referendum on independence. The vote provided 92% support for the Baghdad detachment. At the same time as the result was important for the Kurdish dreams of a state of its own, it also dramatically increased the political instability in the region. The only countries that supported the vote in advance were Russia and Israel. Israel because it is in its best interest to increase the chaos in the region. The United States was opposed because detachment will create major problems for Turkey and Iraq. The Baghdad Central Government had previously adopted a 13-point plan that would allow the Kurds to use force if they went ahead with the independence plans. Larger cities with mixed Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish population as the important city of Kirkuk also took part in the vote. Due. to the mixed population, this was a particularly sensitive issue. Turkey will at all costs prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq because it will provide further support for the Kurdish independence claim in eastern Turkey. Following the vote, the Turkish regime declared that it was considering closing the Iraqi Kurdistan border and imposing a trade blockade on the area. Iraqi Kurdistan exports its oil through Turkey, and trade between the two areas has an annual value of $ 7.5 billion. US $. The Iraqi central government threatened an air and land blockade, and Iran declared it halting oil exports to Iraqi Kurdistan. Like Turkey, Iran will impede the formation of a Kurdish state, as there is also a large Kurdish minority in Iran. (More than 92% of voters in Iraqi Kurdistan back independence, Guardian 28/9 2017)
In mid-October 2016, the Iraqi army and the PMU militia occupied the oil town of Kirkuk, the surrounding oil fields and the Mosul dam. The conquest happened largely without firing a shot, after the army had entered into a secret agreement with the Kurdish PUK peshmerga, who withdrew from the city and left the defense to the KDP peshmerga. The conquest sent over 100,000 of the city’s Kurdish residents on the run. The following two weeks, Iraqis captured large parts of Iraqi Kurdistan and took control of the border crossings against Syria and Turkey, which had otherwise been under Kurdish control. Although limited to military clashes, military losses were not great. The Kurds most often withdrew without a fight. (Iraqi authorities gain first foothold at Kurdish frontier with Turkey, Daily Star 31/10 2017)
As a result of the Kurdish strategic defeat, Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani resigned on November 1. A few days later, Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani announced that Iraqi Kurdistan was handing over all oil revenue to Baghdad, in return for getting the statutory 17% of the state budget. Most countries with Turkey at the forefront welcomed the collapse of the Kurdish independence dreams. The United States reportedly remained neutral, but it covered the fact that the tactical alliance that had existed between the Iraqi Kurds and the United States since 1990 no longer existed. The United States now supported Baghdad exclusively. As many times earlier in history, those who, for tactical reasons, had supported the Kurds once again turned their backs. Internally in Kurdistan the power struggle between primarily the ruling KDP and the PUK intensified. The PUK demanded the KDP government dissolved. The KDP accused the PUK of a historic betrayal of Iraqi Kurdistan.