The Iraqi premier was met upon arrival at Erbil International Airport by Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani.
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] ‘s first meeting in Erbil was with leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and former Kurdistan Region president Masoud Barzani. State media quoted the Iraqi premier as saying during the meeting that the Kurdistan Region “is an essential part of Iraq,” before recalling cooperation between Erbil and Baghdad during the war against the Islamic State (ISIS).
Iraqi Kurdistan is not unified region, it is divided politically and geographically between the ruling Barzani clan and their KDP party, led by Massoud Barzani, and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK led by the Talabani’s clan.
“Military cooperation between different units of Iraqi forces and Peshmerga forces helped Iraq to defeat Daesh,” state media reported Kadhimi as saying.
During his meeting with Masrour Barzani, Kadhimi said that the “chance has arrived for everyone to cooperate,” according to Iraqi state media.
The Kurdish premier described Kadhimi’s visit as a “positive sign” for the resolution of Erbil-Baghdad issues, according to a readout from his office. Masrour Barzani noted that issues between the regional and federal governments “are not limited to salaries and the budget, and we hope that the unresolved issues are resolved in the near future, based on the constitution.”
The two also discussed “reactivating the mechanism of security cooperation” in disputed areas to confront ISIS, according to the Kurdish statement.
Kadhimi will also meet with Kurdistan Region president Nechirvan Barzani, and visit the provinces of Duhok and Sulaimani, according to Rudaw’s Sangar Abdulrahman. He will visit the Ibrahim Khalil crossing at the Kurdistan Region-Turkey border, Samal Abdulrahman, head of Kurdistan’s customs department told Rudaw on Thursday morning.
One aim of Kadhimi’s visit is to “reach an agreement regarding the border crossings in the Kurdistan Region,” Hoshyar Abdullah, a Kurdish MP in Iraqi parliament told Rudaw on Wednesday.
Samir Hawrami, spokesperson for the KRG’s Baghdad delegation leader and deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani told Rudaw last week that the KRG and federal government had reached an initial agreement on border crossing revenue.
“According to our principal agreement with Baghdad…only 50 percent of the KRG’s border crossings revenues will be given to the Iraqi government.”
However, there are “voices in Baghdad” against any agreement between KRG and the federal government, veteran Kurdish politician and former member of Iraqi parliament Mahmoud Othman told Rudaw on Thursday.
“Kadhimi is aiming to resolve outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad – but he can’t do that alone, as there are voices in Baghdad against any agreement with Erbil,” Othman said. “Some Shiite blocs in Iraqi parliament are pressuring Kadhimi to not compromise for the Kurds.”
Kadhimi’s visit comes after a high-level KRG delegation arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday for oil and budget talks.
The trip by the KRG deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani-led delegation is part of a series of visits to Baghdad beginning last month that mark the KRG’s first-time participation in drafting Iraq’s annual budget.
Last week, Nechirvan Barzani paid a visit to Baghdad, where he met with Kadhimi and a number of Iraqi leaders on the sidelines of a meeting with France’s President Emmanuel Macron.
“I held a round of meetings with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad, including Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi, President Salih, Speaker Halbousi & Sayyid [Ammar] Al-Hakim. We discussed bilateral relations, challenges facing the country & resolving outstanding issues in accordance with the Constitution,” Barzani said in a tweet last week.
The Kurdistan Region is heavily dependent on its share of the Iraqi budget, and Kurdish officials have said they cannot pay civil servants without what it says is its fair share of federal government money.
Erbil says it is entitled to its 12.67% share of federal funds, as stipulated by Iraq’s 2019 budget law, while Baghdad says the KRG has not lived up to its end of a deal that includes turning over 250,000 barrels of oil daily to Iraq’s State Organization for the Marketing of Oil (SOMO), a state-owned oil company.
Before the August agreement between premiers Barzani and Kadhimi, Baghdad had not sent funds to Erbil since April, worsening the KRG’s failure to pay complete and full public sector employee salaries this year.
KRG public sector employees have taken to the streets over delays in salary payments. Demonstrations and strikes calling on the KRG’s current cabinet to resign have occurred several times in Sulaimani province, while protests by teachers in May over delayed pay in Duhok were shut down.
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