Politics & Economics

Baghdad and Erbil Seek to Resolve Outstanding Issues

Iraq

Members of the Federal Government in Baghdad met with political leaders from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to discuss bilateral issues.

Iraqi President Barham Salih arrived in Erbil yesterday and was following by a large delegation today comprising Speaker of Parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi, and Minister of Finance, Fuad Hussain, to meet with KRG President Nechirvan Barzani, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, and the KRG’s Speaker of Parliament, Vala Fareed.

This visit is aimed at facilitating the acceleration of negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad, especially in light of the recent claims that have been made by KRG officials over Baghdad’s $80 million debt to Erbil. Other important issues include the export of oil as well as the budget allocations from the Federal Government to the KRG. Some of these issues have been outstanding since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Nevertheless, relations between the KRG and Baghdad have reached positive levels under the tenure of current Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi and under the presidency of Barham Salih, himself from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

“There are genuine ways for us to reach solutions and come to a common interpretation of shared affairs. There are important issues such as the export of oil and the bugdet allocations to the KRG in 2020 as well as the salaries of the Peshmerga and salaries of the citizens”, noted Faris al-Berifkani, a Member of Parliament.

In July, Adil Abd al-Mahdi announced that the limited funding that is sent from the central budget to pay for public sector salaries in the KRG will only be increased once the dispute over oil transfers is resolved.

These underlying issues were exacerbated during the Kurdistan vote for independence of 2017 (for which an overwhelming majority voted for independence), following which a military conflict ensued leading to the KRG’s loss of Kirkuk as well as the oil fields that exist in the province. Relations have nevertheless smoothed since those incidents and bilateral ties are being restored and improved following the inauguration of Nechirvan Barzani as President of the KRG in June of this year.