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PM Barzani: “We have set a strategy. It’s time to open a new page and move past the language of threats.”

Baghdad, Iraq, (KRG.org) - Within three days of arrival in Baghdad, the Kurdistan Regional Government delegation headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, concluded an agreement with the Federal Government of Iraq. Prior to leaving Baghdad, back to Erbil yesterday, Prime Minister Barzani spoke with the media about the meetings and results of the negotiations.

The KRG Prime Minister highlighted the meetings of the past two days, saying, “During the past two days we have been here in Baghdad in order to address issues between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad.  We conducted several meetings with the Iraqi Prime Minister, the Oil Minister, and other ministers. Different teams focused on different negotiations. We completed our visit today.”

Speaking about the conduct and atmosphere at the meetings the Prime Minister said, “I would like to say the meetings were generally positive. We saw a real desire by the Iraqi Prime Minister, the Iraqi Oil Minister, and all other ministers in Prime Minister Abadi’s government to resolve important issues with the Kurdistan Region. I want to emphasize and reiterate that our preference from day one was to resolve all issues through dialogue.  We preferred this option and believe it is the best option.”

Regarding the agreements, Prime Minister Barzani said, “After the former Iraqi Prime Minister unilaterally cut the share of the Kurdistan Region from the Iraqi budget we have attempted to resolve the issue through dialogue.  Fortunately, we reached an agreement with Prime Minister Abadi and his team on a number of issues.  We believe the agreement is transparent and serves the interests of both the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad. Both sides came out of these negotiations successfully."

Regarding the details of the meetings, the Prime Minister said, “The agreement is as follows: The KRG will deliver 250,000 barrels of oil per day from oilfields in the Kurdistan Region to Baghdad, and we will assist them in exporting Kirkuk oil. In turn, the Federal Government of Iraq will provide the Kurdistan Region 17 percent share of the federal budget. We emphasized that the amount received in the past was never 17 percent, it was always less.” 

On the issue of the Peshmerga forces dues which was one of the main unresolved issues, Prime Minister Barzani said, “Prime Minister Abadi offered his respect and gratitude to the Peshmerga forces, especially in the struggle and sacrifices they have been making on the battlefield fighting against ISIS terrorism. Baghdad agreed to allocate 1 trillion 200 billion Iraqi Dinars for the Peshmerga.”

Prime Minister Barzani explained details of the agreement, saying, “The current agreement is not the final agreement, but we believe it to be a good start. There are other issues we should discuss in the coming period and we hope to reach agreement on them, too. This is a good start for both sides and, hopefully, we will resolve all outstanding problems and obstacles within a period of six months or so.

“I can say that, in general, we are pleased with this agreement and consider it a gain for all parties. Given the problems between Erbil and Baghdad, we can say we have come a long way.  What we have seen this time in Baghdad is a desire by the Iraqi Prime Minister to tackle these problems. This encourages us to move forward faster. As I said, our priority is to address and resolve our problems with Baghdad.”

Regarding external pressure, particularly from the United States and other parties on the KRG delegation to reach agreement with Baghdad, the Prime Minister said, “There was no pressure on us.  What we have achieved was through the desire of both Baghdad and Erbil to reach a mutually satisfying agreement. The United States, United Kingdom, and the United Nations role is to encourage both sides to negotiate to reach an agreement. They did not interfere in the negotiations and did not exert any pressure, even in the organization of the meetings. As you know, Iraqi Oil Minister Dr. Adil Abdul Mehdi visited Erbil recently and met with Deputy Prime Minister Mr Qubad Talabani and I.  We agreed then to visit Baghdad to begin these talks.”

 

Regarding the amount allocated by the Iraqi Government for the Peshmerga forces, whether it was taken from the Kurdistan Region’s portion of the federal budget, Prime Minister Barzani said, “The amount agreed for the Peshmerga forces will be from outside the Kurdistan Region’s share of the budget, meaning it will not be from the 17 percent allocated to the Kurdistan Region. They agreed the Peshmerga forces are part of the Iraqi defense system. This agreement is very important because after 11 years of negotiations Baghdad agreed to the proposal to allocate a portion of the national defense budget to the Peshmerga forces.”

In response to a question, KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani emphasized, "the agreement reached between the Federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government works in favor of all sides and I believe that everybody will support this agreement."

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the civil servants, businessmen, and contractors in the Kurdistan Region for their patience with salary and payment delays. He said, "We have already received a payment and are receiving another one.  We hope to overcome the issue of public service salaries by January."   

Regarding exporting oil from Kirkuk oilfields through the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline, the KRG Prime Minister explained that, practically speaking, Kirkuk oil can flow only through the Kurdistan Region’s pipeline. "We have agreed to export 300 thousand barrels per day. The technical process may start this week."

Prime Minister Barzani also noted, "the process of exporting Kirkuk oil through the Region’s pipeline is in the interest of both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. He said the Region would not charge the Iraqi federal government for the export. The Region works within the framework of the Constitution of federal Iraq. This gives the Kurdistan Region opportunity to coordinate approaches to oil export and solve issues without stress." 

Regarding the oil exported by the Kurdistan Region independently, the Prime Minister said, “We continue to export oil that we have, but we will first use it to meet the Region’s domestic fuel requirements. We will export the rest after meeting domestic demand."     

Regarding the agreement between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, Prime Minister Barzani explained, "The budget law is for one year. When we came from Erbil we knew that we will not resolve all issues in a meeting or two. We thought our visit called for a strategy to resolve the issues.  We have now set the strategy. The agreement we have now concluded will open the door to settle all issues within six months to a year.

“What is important is that we managed to implement two important things. First, the sanctions imposed in Iraq’s general budget law on the Kurdistan Region’s share of the national budget have been removed. Second, we have reached agreement on oil export, the Kurdistan Region’s budget, and the Peshmerga forces’ budget.

"The other issues are article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, incentives for Peshmerga forces, and other outstanding issues for which a period of time will be decided for their settlement. There will be talks also about what is owed to the Kurdistan Region from the 2014 budget, which is 16 trillion Iraqi dinars, as determined by the Iraq Ministry of Finance. All these issues cannot be solved in one meeting, more meetings are needed."

While emphasizing that all differences cannot be solved in one visit or meeting, Prime Minister Barzani reiterated that the agreement concluded with Baghdad paves the way for resolving the issues within six months to one year.

Regarding project loans and mortgages for citizens, Prime Minister Barzani reiterated his government’s commitment to continue support for loans and mortgages.

Regarding guarantees the Iraqi Government will not cut the Kurdistan Region’s share of the national budget again, the Prime Minister explained, "There are no guarantees that the Iraqi government will not cut the Kurdistan Region’s share of the budget. We should not forget, however, that if they cut our share, we hold a key to their oil export. We do not, however, wish to talk in such language, we hope this language is over. We wish to open a new page and avoid using the language of threats."

Regarding Peshmerga forces participating with the Iraqi army in liberating ISIS-controlled territory, the Prime Minister explained, "The Peshmerga forces are now fighting on a 1,100 kilometer-long frontline. Iraq’s Prime Minister lauded their efforts. In fighting a global terrorist organization, what the Peshmerga forces are achieving is most significant and serves the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and the whole world." 

Regarding the Iraqi government’s commitment to implementing the agreement, the Prime Minister said, "the agreement has been approved by the Iraqi Council of Ministers and it has become a decree. The Iraqi government has expressed its support to the agreement. On our part we are implementing the agreement. In Baghdad, we observed willingness. We would like to take every opportunity to reach a solution that serves both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. However, to what extent it will actually be implemented, we will have to see that later."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KRG delegation partakes in a roundtable meeting with donor countries

Baghdad, Iraq (dfr.krg.org) – The Government of Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and the United Nations agencies held a roundtable meeting with the donor countries and diplomats based in Baghdad to encourage international community to provide support for Iraq’s internally displaced persons (IDP).

Karim Sinjari, Minister of Interior, Ali Sindi, Minister of Planning, and Falah Mustafa, Head of Department of Foreign Relation represented KRG in the meeting, which was chaired by Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Construction and Services and attended by Iraq’s ministers of foreign affairs, finance, migration and displacement, representatives of UN agencies as well as 40 ambassadors.

Deputy Prime Mnister Mutlaq said, “Deterioration of security in Iraq, which is mainly caused by the attacks of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has resulted in the displacement of nearly two million people.”

He added, “Addressing the needs of the IDPs is out of the capacity of Iraq. We are facing harsh financial challenges and sharp decline of oil price has exacerbated the situation. Iraq is in need of $5 billion to address the needs of IDPs and their return to their areas.”

Iraq’s finance minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, gave an overview of the financial crisis facing Iraq and announced that the federal government has agreed to allocate $850 million for the ministry of migration and displacement as part of the 215 budget.

According to the KRG Ministry of Planning and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 47 percent of all Iraq’s 2 million displaced are now in the Kurdistan Region. The rest of the IDPs are spread throughout Iraq having fled conflicts in Anbar, Ninewa, Diyala and Salah al-Din governorates. As people continue to flee the violence, the latest count indicates that some 946,266 Iraqis (157,711 families) have sought sanctuary in the region since the beginning of the year. This represents an increase of 53,526 individuals since 1 September.

KRG minister of Planning discussed the difficulties facing the KRG in addressing the needs of IDPs in the Region. He said, “Hosting of IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is placing a huge burden on the region’s social services, as well as its financial resources, which is becoming unsustainable.”

“This humanitarian emergency is far from over and with the winter months the challenges are becoming greater by the day. The partnership between the Government of Iraq, the KRG and the international community is fundamental to address the response, but this is not enough: fresh funds are now needed to avert this crisis from becoming a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Jacqueline Badcock, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

Commenting on the meeting, Minister Mustafa said, “The large number of IDPs in the Region has stretched our infrastructure and social services to the limit. This was a good opportunity for KRG to be present in Baghdad to address members of international community in highlighting the plight of IDPs.” 

 

President Barzani Congratulates New Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi

Kurdistan region President Masoud Barzani called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi today to congratulate him as the new Prime Minister of Iraq and wished him success.

In their telephone conversation, they discussed the unanimous decision by Kurdistan’s political sides to participate in the new government, and both sides emphasized the need for all parties to work together to save the country from the current security and political crises.

They both concurred that there is a good opportunity for joint work to ensure that the mistakes of the previous government are not repeated, and that the conditions and demands of the Kurdish side are met. They also agreed to work together to restore stability in the country and defeat terrorists.

 

 

 

 

The Kurdish forces facing the Islamic State need help from the United States

Washington Post Editorial Board

A NEW humanitarian and security crisis has erupted in northern Iraq, where the al-Qaeda-derived Islamic State borders territories controlled by Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. Since last weekend, tens of thousands of civilians have been trapped on a mountainside near the Iraqi town of Sinjar, which was captured by Islamic State fighters. The refugees, including an estimated 25,000 children, lack supplies of food and water and could perish in a matter of days unless a relief corridor is opened, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, the extremist forces are threatening to capture Iraq’s two largest dams and are pressing toward Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Both the potential human cost and the threat to U.S. interests are vastly greater than in the Gaza Strip, which has consumed the attention of Secretary of State John F. Kerry and senior White House officials in recent weeks. An Iraqi minority group concentrated in the contested area, the Yazidis, is facing nothing less than genocide at the hands of the Islamic State, which considers the sect heretical. Meanwhile, the strongest and most reliable U.S. ally remaining in the region, the Kurdistan government, is struggling to hold the line against Islamic State forces.

The Obama administration’s response to this emergency, however, has been listless. U.S. officials have reportedly authorized the direct supply of munitions to Kurdish forces, which have been attempting to retake Sinjar, and have coordinated attacks by the Iraqi air force against Islamic State targets. It has also pushed the Iraqi government to carry out a humanitarian air drop in the area where the Yazidi refugees are stranded, though the operation achieved only limited results, according to a report by The Post’s Loveday Morris.

Kurdish forces still suffer from the warped and outdated U.S. policy toward Iraq, which prioritizes maintaining a strong central government in Baghdad over aiding the secular, democratic and pro-Western Kurds. A Kurdish delegation that visited Washington last month seeking direct military aid to fight the Islamic State was rebuffed. Administration officials contend they cannot act without the consent and cooperation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, even though his sectarian policies are largely responsible for returning the country to civil war.

President Obama dispatched some 800 U.S. personnel to Iraq earlier this summer in order to evaluate the Islamic State threat, protect the U.S. embassy and coordinate assistance. But the administration has refrained from major new aid initiatives or U.S. military action, saying that it first wants to see the formation of a broadly representative Iraqi government. That goal may not be achievable in the near future, or ever; meanwhile, the extremist Islamist forces continue to advance, both in Iraq and Syria.

Mr. Obama is right to deny new support to the Iraqi government as long as the toxic Mr. Maliki remains in office. But it can and should act immediately to address the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq and to further support Kurdish forces, which face the Islamic state along a 600-mile border. If the Iraqi airlift of supplies to the stranded Yazidis is ineffective, the United States should consider other action to save the refugees. It also should supply Kurds with the heavy weapons they have requested and, if necessary, use U.S. air power to stop the Islamic State forces from advancing further.

 

 

 

 

America has ‘moral responsibility’ to intervene in Iraq, says Iraqi Kurdish foreign minister

By Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky, CNN

The foreign minister of Iraqi Kurdistan on Wednesday issued a desperate plea for American and Western intervention to halt the advance of ISIS extremists.

“We are left alone in the front to fight the terrorists of ISIS,” Falah Mustafa Bakir told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour.

“I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to support us, because this is a fight against terrorism, and we have proven to be pro-democracy, pro-West, and pro-secularism.”

While much of the world's attention has recently been focused on Gaza, ISIS has been sweeping across northern Iraq.

Over the weekend, ISIS forces captured a string of towns controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who, after the near-collapse of the Iraqi army in June, have been seen as the only force capable of confronting ISIS.

Bakir said that Kurdish forces have started to reverse the defensive tack they were forced to take over the weekend.

“This is something way beyond the capacity of the Iraqi air forces. We need the United States and NATO to interfere because we are fighting on behalf of all those who are against terrorism.”

“The U.S. troops have left; the six Iraqi divisions have disappeared. Now it’s only the Peshmerga forces facing these terrorist groups, who have captured all these advanced and sophisticated weaponry from the Iraqi army.”
“And the irony is that we are using outdated, Russian weapons, and the terrorists are using sophisticated and advanced American weapons against us.”
Among the towns captured was Sinjar, home to many Yazidi, a small religious sect whose members are particular targets for the Sunni extremists of ISIS.

Thousands fled with barely any supplies, many into nearby mountains where they're stranded and surrounded by the extremists. They face starvation and dehydration.

While the United States has said it is “actively monitoring the situation” and is providing assistance to the Peshmerga, there seems to be no appetite for a more substantive American intervention in Iraq.

“We have listened to [people] supporting our experience, supporting us. This is now time for action.”

“We have made some progress and we will continue. We are determined in order to take all the areas that have been taken by ISIS back. But we need support, and that support would be in way of airstrikes but also weapons and ammunition.”

“This is a terrorist organization that has declared the war on all those who are against them. So therefore it’s not only the responsibility of Kurdistan. If we are not able to stop them here, they would continue and pose a threat to other countries as well.”

 

CNN Link 

 

 

 

 

Kurdistan Region President Meets Iraq Parliament Speaker

Salahaddin, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRP.org) – Kurdistan Region President met with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama Nujeifi in Erbil on Thursday. The two discussed political and security developments in the country, as well as the election process and political prospects for the country after this election.

They both agreed that once the final election results are announced by the Interdependent High Electoral Commission, talks should commence between all sides to rescue the country from its political crises.

 

 

 

 

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