KRG Prime Minister Barzani, delegation arrives in Baghdad for talks

First in new capacity
FILE: KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (File)

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SULAIMANI – A delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) led by the Prime Minister Masrour Barzani arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday (July 16) and for meetings with senior federal officials, the first in his new capacity.

The group is due to hold meetings with President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, and Speaker of the Council of Representatives Mohammed al-Halbusi.

Barzani said during the first formal meeting of the new KRG Council of Ministers on Monday that “the meetings are for discussions about finding proper solutions for the ongoing problems between Baghdad and Erbil in the framework of the [Iraqi] constitution.”

During a phone call with his KRG counterpart, Abdul Mahdi said that he hoped to take practical steps to resolve the disagreements and cooperate together for the benefit of both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

Among the issues likely to be discussed are oil transfers, the disputed areas, and security concerns.

Parliamentarians in Baghdad are growing increasingly frustrated with Erbil’s refusal to hand over the 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day as required under the 2019 federal budget law. The KRG has said that it first must meet preexisting obligations and transfers to the federal government will likely not occur until next year.

Similarly, Baghdad and Erbil have long been at loggerheads over the disputed areas, a zone of territory that includes Kirkuk claimed by both governments and home to a mix of ethnic groups. While there are procedures for resolving their status, most importantly Article 140 of the 2005 constitution, their implementation has been long delayed.

During the war against Islamic State, Kurdish forces controlled much of the disputed areas, but were pushed out by the Iraqi Army and the Hashd al-Shaabi in an operation launched in response to the Kurdish independence referendum in 2017. Since then, Kurdish parties have eyed a political return in Kirkuk and sought to redeploy the Peshmerga to the broader zone.

(NRT Digital Media)