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  1. MP: KRG delegation to visit Baghdad next week Baxtiyar Goran | 40 minutes ago Share share Kurdistan Region and Iraq flags. (Photo: Kurdistan 24) Kurdistan Iraq Erbil Baghdad Relations ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – An Iraqi MP on Wednesday revealed that a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will visit the Iraqi capital Baghdad next week. Jasim al-Bayati, a parliament member from the State of Law bloc, said a KRG delegation will visit Baghdad to begin dialogue over the outstanding issues between Erbil and the Iraqi government. Bayati, who has close links with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, told Iraqi media that meetings between the Iraqi government and the KRG will “identify a mechanism for dialogue over the conflicting points and stranded issues.” According to the MP, there are several issues that will be discussed between Erbil and Baghdad including the federal budget, oil revenues, border crossings, and status of airports. Meanwhile, following a series of meetings with Kurdish political parties on Tuesday, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani stated that a visit to Baghdad had not been scheduled yet. “We will visit Baghdad as a government delegation where all Kurdish political parties in the cabinet shall participate,” the Prime Minister told the press. “All political parties that were consulted have agreed on three main principles,” PM Barzani said, adding they were all opposed to the formation of two administrations in the Kurdistan Region, supportive of talks with Baghdad, but against any unilateral discussions with the Federal Government of Iraq. Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated since the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence vote which saw 93 percent of voters favoring secession. Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
  2. #BUSINESS NEWS NOVEMBER 22, 2017 / 1:24 PM / UPDATED 2 HOURS AGO Exclusive: Iraq looks to Kuwait gas pipeline to pay off reparations Rania El Gamal, Osamu Tsukimori, Dmitry Zhdannikov 6 MIN READ DUBAI/TOKYO/LONDON (Reuters) - Iraq has hired Japan’s Toyo Engineering (6330.T) to help build a gas pipeline to Kuwait and a related petrochemical plant as Baghdad looks to reduce flaring and finish paying reparations owed for its 1990 invasion of its neighbour. The project, details of which have not been reported before, would allow Kuwait to diversify its gas imports in the wake a political crisis between Gulf states and major supplier Qatar. It would also deal a blow to Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), which aimed to be the dominant gas player in Iraq before relations with Baghdad soured following Shell’s exit from large oil projects. “Iraq needs to urgently reduce gas flaring as it trails behind all targets it has promised the World Bank,” said a senior industry source working on the project but not allowed to discuss it publicly. “The Kuwaiti gas project is a quick fix and an easy way to monetize gas resources.” The World Bank, which has repeatedly made reducing gas flaring a condition of lending to Baghdad, did not respond to a request for immediate comment. Toyo is proposing to construct a gas pipeline and start deliveries after 2019, industry sources said. Toyo’s chief financial officer, Kensuke Waki, told Reuters that talks about a pipeline and a petrochemical plant were ongoing but a final investment decision had not yet been made. Kuwait is very keen on the project and has offered a sovereign guarantee for up to 80 percent of the costs, industry sources said. No total cost has been announced. Kuwait’s oil ministry did not respond to a request for immediate comment. Oil minister Issam Al-Marzouq said last month that talks between Kuwait and Iraq were focused on a proposal to use gas to help pay Baghdad’s final $4.6 billion in war compensation payments. Iraqi oil ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said talks were focusing on price and confirmed that supplies could be used to help pay off reparations. DIFFERENCES OVER PRICE, PLANT Industry sources told Reuters the talks have faltered over price, however. They said Kuwait is pushing for a price of less than $3 per mbtu (million British thermal unit), in line with U.S. Henry Hub prices. But that is less than half what Iraq pays in the north when importing gas from neighboring Iran. “The price of gas remains the key sticking point for now,” one of the sources said. He also said both Iraq and Kuwait were pushing to have the petrochemical plant built on their territory to further capitalize on gas deliveries. Discussions with Iraq are ongoing, a senior Kuwaiti oil industry source with knowledge of the project said, adding that it was not yet clear if gas would come from West Qurna 2 operated by Russia’s Lukoil (LKOH.MM) or from Rumaila, operated by BP (BP.L). Iraq used to supply Kuwait with gas from Rumaila. Volumes reached as much as 400 mcf per day but stopped shortly after the 1990 invasion. More than a million claimants in Kuwait have been paid as part of Baghdad’s $52.4 billion reparations bill for the invasion. But Iraq, hurt by the 2014 fall in oil prices and its war with Islamic State militants, requested a delay on the last and largest tranche, which is due this year. CHALLENGE TO SHELL Kuwait, although one of OPEC’s leading oil producers, has struggled to meet growing domestic gas demand. The shortfall has been estimated at 500 million cubic feet per day and is being covered mainly by LNG imports, including from Qatar. A decade ago Kuwait tried to build a pipeline from Qatar, but the move was blocked by Saudi Arabia. With relations between Riyadh and Doha worsening this year, Kuwait is looking to diversify its gas imports. Last year, Kuwait said it would be ready to buy up to 200 mcf/day of gas from Baghdad. Iraqi oil ministry spokesman Jihad said volumes could start at 50 mcf/d rising gradually to 200 mcf/d. Iraq’s gas reserves of 3.7 trillion cubic meters rank as 12th largest in the world but represent only a tenth of those of Iran, the world’s largest. It extracts large quantities of gas together with oil, however, and that gas is currently being flared. Iraq’s gas development plans have long focused on the Basra gas company, a $17 billion, 25-year project in which Iraq has 51 percent, Shell owns 44 percent and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T) 5 percent. The project was designed to aggregate gas from fields in the south including West Qurna 1 operated by Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), Zubair operated by Italy’s ENI (ENI.MI) and BP’s Rumaila. “Shell’s main aim was always to develop an LNG terminal and ultimately a petchem complex in Iraq,” said a Shell insider who worked on the gas project. With Iraq refusing to agree on a gas price with Shell, the project has hit a major impasse, industry sources said. Talks have also been complicated by Shell pulling out of the Majnoon oil fields earlier this year. “Iraq is furious at Shell and prospects don’t look that great for the Basra gas company,” one Iraqi industry source said. Asked about the negotiations, both Shell and the Iraqi oil ministry said discussions were ongoing and both sides remained committed to the project.
  3. KRG PM SAYS GOVERNMENT TO HOLD ELECTIONS SOON 45 mins ago Views 151 SULAIMANI – Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said the government would try to hold elections in the Kurdistan Region as soon as possible. A KRG delegation headed by Barzani met with Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party in Sulaimani on Tuesday (November 21) to discuss the region’s issues and crises. KRG Premier told reporters following the meeting that the aim of the meetings with the political parties is to evaluate the KRG. There are now two opinions, Barzani said. One is that a temporal government should be formed while the other is that the region’s elections should be held as soon as possible. “Most of the parties think as we do,” KRG PM added. Elections should be held as soon as possible and “we will later decide how we will deal [with the situation].” Earlier, the delegation held talks with the Change Movement (Gorran) and a project by Gorran was proposed to the KRG to rescue the region from the crises. Parliament and presidential elections in the Kurdistan region had been due to take place on November 1, but were cancelled when tensions rose significantly with the occupation of Kirkuk and other disputed areas by Baghdad forces in mid-October. The Kurdistan Parliament on October 24 extended its current term for another eight months after Kurdistan parliament and presidential elections were postponed. A years-long political crisis in the Kurdistan Region has left the legislature in limbo since speaker Yousif Mohammed was blocked from entering Erbil in October 2015, as he made his way to the parliament building in the region’s capital city. Masoud Barzani resigned his position from the office of the Presidency at the end of October. On October 29, the parliament passed new legislation temporarily redistributing the powers of his office. That law will be in effect until the new elections.
  4. $1 Billion Stolen Per Day Through Currency Auction in Iraq: Investigators Basnews English 20/11/2017 - 17:06 Iraq ERBIL — The international team of investigators have revealed that around USD 1 billion is stolen by Iraqi officials through currency auctions of the Central Bank of Iraq. A source close to Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told Al Ghad Press on Monday that the international team investigating corruption cases in Iraq has informed Abadi about the involvement of dozens of Iraqi officials in squandering a large amount of Iraq’s money. The officials waste public money and steal it through the dollar auctions of the Central Bank of Iraq, the source said. The investigations revealed that Iraq is wasting large amounts of money, sometimes amounting to one billion dollars per day, because of the difference in the Iraqi dinar exchange rate between the auction and the black market. The source added that the team has completed the investigation of the auction case, and informed Abadi about the corruption. The source noted that Abadi has ordered the Central Bank to adopt international classifications to give banks the dollar and engage them in auctions, in exchange for maintaining the dollar exchange rate, which remained stable at 1,180 dinars to the dollar.
  5. Baghdad in secret talks to resolve crisis with Kurds, says Iraq MP Revelation comes amid international pressure to restore ties through negotiations Mina Aldroubi November 16, 2017 Iraq's government has been holding secret talks with leaders from the Kurdish region to resolve the crisis triggered by its independence referendum, a member of Iraq's parliament said. Kamel Al Zaydi, an MP from the State of Law coalition, said prime minister Haider Al Abadi had "established a secret committee headed by instrumental political figures to negotiate with the Kurds on the referendum crisis”. “The negotiations are advancing rapidly and an announcement is going to be made,” Mr Al Zaydi told the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al Awsat. Relations between the central government and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) deteriorated after it went ahead with a referendum on independence for the semi-autonomous region. The September 25 vote saw an overwhelming response in favour of secession but was rejected by Baghdad as illegal. Mr Al Zaydi was a member of a parliamentary committee set up to try to convince Kurdish leaders not to go ahead with the independence referendum. His revelation about the secret talks comes amid international calls for Baghdad and the regional government in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, to begin negotiations on resolving their differences under the Iraqi constitution. “If all sides work towards the same goal, while protecting the unity of the country and the constitutional system, Iraq could possibly overcome the major challenges it has faced,” German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday. The KRG said on Tuesday that it would respect a ruling by Iraq's federal court against its push for independence. “We believe that this decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes,” the Kurdish government said. France immediately welcomed the move. A statement issued by the French foreign minister also called for talks to begin and praised the UN’s efforts in reducing tensions. The United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres said the UN shared the Kurdish government's view that "outstanding issues between Baghdad and Erbil should be resolved by peaceful means through political negotiations based on the constitution of the republic of Iraq". “I am encouraged by the fact that the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan regional government have publicly expressed openness to such negotiations on several occasions,” Mr Guterres said in a letter delivered to Kurdish prime minister Nechirvan Barzani on Wednesday. “A further destabilisation of the current situation must be prevented, in the interests of promoting national reconciliation, fostering greater stability in a volatile region and confronting the threat that ISIL continues to pose." Meanwhile, US president Donald Trump's special envoy to the anti-ISIL coalition, Brett McGurk, also touched on the Kurdish issue during a meeting with Mr Al Abadi on Wednesday. View image on Twitter Kurdish politicians have also called for talks to begin as soon as possible. “We call on Iraq to not waste any more time and to starts talks with the Kurdish regional government and to avoid the language of threat,” said Jaafar Emnini, deputy speaker of the Kurdish parliament. Begard Talabani, secretary of the regional parliament, warned that Kurds would "withdraw from the political process in Iraq" if Baghdad refused to start talks with the region. The central government responded to the referendum by halting all international flights in and out of the Kurdish region and later launched a military operation that recaptured the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other areas that lie outside of region's borders but are claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil.
  6. BAGHDAD SAYS KRG'S RESPECT FOR FEDERAL COURT DECISION "A MEANS TO ANNUL REFERENDUM" 20 mins ago Views 141 SULAIMANI – The Kurdistan Region’s declaration of respect for the Federal Court’s interpretation of Article 1 of the Iraqi constitution is a means to “annul the independence referendum,” a spokesman for Iraqi government said on Wednesday (November 15). When asked about Baghdad’s requirements to start dialogue with Erbil, Saad al-Hadithi said "The Federal Court issued a decision in this regard, and the commitment to this decision means to cancel the referendum, and we look at it from this angle." Hadithi said the Federal Court has issued a decision affirming that the Iraqi constitution does not contain a text authorizing the secession of any of the components of Iraq, pointing out that the constitution affirms the unity of the country. Commitment to a decision issued by the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court on November 6 is a means to support Iraq’s unity, Saad al-Hadithi told Russian news agency Sputnik. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said it respects decision No. 122 of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court regarding the interpretation of the Article 1 of the Iraqi constitution. Rather, Article 1 says, “The Republic of Iraq is a federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is a parliamentary and democratic republic, and this constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.” In its decision at the request of the Iraqi Council of Ministers to consider the September 25 independence referendum, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that there is no provision in the constitution that allows for the separation of any of its components [provinces or regions] provided for in Article 116 of the Constitution under its provisions. The KRG issued a statement on Tuesday (November 14) saying the federal court’s decision regarding Article 1 should become a basis to start talks between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve the issues. The KRG statement regarding Article 1 reads; “We believe that this decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq. (NRT)
  7. Prime Minister Barzani talks to the press: Dialogue is the only option MON, 13 NOV 2017 22:05 | KRG Cabinet Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( – In a press conference, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani talked about the powerful earthquake which hit the Kurdistan Region and Iranian Kurdistan last night, Iraq’s 2018 Draft Budget bill and other issues related to the current situation in the Kurdistan Region. Below is the transcript of the press conference: Good morning, As you all know, a powerful 7.3-magnitiude earthquake hit Halabja, Darbandikhan, and other areas in the Kurdistan Region last night. I want to express my condolences to the families of the victims and I wish a speedy recovery for those who are injured. The Kurdistan Regional Government is sending teams to assess the situation and we will do whatever we can and spare no effort to help those in need. I want to thank the Office of the Turkish President for calling us last night almost immediately after the earthquake occurred. I thank the Turkish Consulate in Erbil and the Turkish Foreign Ministry for contacting us last night and sending trucks of relief material so soon after the quake. They also sent a plane to Sulaimani with more relief material and a rescue team. I thank also the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, AFAD, and the Turkish President himself for his support. They did what was expected as they have done for us during difficult times in the past. I also want to thank Germyan Administration officials, police, and security offices that immediately rushed to help earthquake victims last night and this morning, and they are still working to serve the people of our Region. On another topic, we have officially sent our reservations and notes to Baghdad about the draft budget bill for 2018, pointing out problematic budget areas. We insisted on receiving the Kurdistan Region’s full 17 per cent share of the budget as agreed to in accordance with the Constitution and we await their response. There is also an issue of sending the required amounts of medical supplies essential, which is very important to serve over 1.5 million internally displaced persons, IDPs, and Syrian refugees. Regarding military operations, there are currently no military movements on the frontlines. We have said before, and I will say it again, we believe peaceful dialogue with Baghdad on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution is the only way to solution for issues. Questions & Answers Q: You have called for talks with Baghdad several times. Have they responded? What was their response? Prime Minister Barzani: No, they have yet to respond. Once again, I reiterate that we should resolve our issues peacefully on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution. Q: Last week, you said you would visit political parties in the Kurdistan Region. When are you going to visit them? Have you set a time for it? Prime Minister Barzani: Yes, we were planning to visit the political parties, but the reason why it has been postponed is because some of the parties officials are not here. Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani and I have decided to start visiting the political parties when they get back. After visiting them, we will assess the current situation and will work together to resolve issues, and after that we will select a date for elections in the Kurdistan Region. Q: The weather is getting cold and people are talking about ‘white oil’ (kerosene) distribution. Can KRG provide ‘white oil’ for the people? Prime Minister Barzani: Our ability in terms of providing oil is limited, but we will work on this. Q: It was said that a KDP delegation would visit Gorran. When is that going to happen? Also, if you make new changes, are there any positive points that you would like to adopt from ‘’Gorran’s package’’? Prime Minister Barzani: What is ‘’Gorran’s Package’’? I am not aware of that, but anyway, whatever it is, if it helps improve the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, I will consider it and I am ready to listen to all opinions and suggestions. Regarding the KDP-Gorran meeting, it is true. KDP will visit Gorran as a political party. We are ready to negotiate with Gorran. We will talk as two political parties of the Region. Q: I heard that Rosneft helped KRG pay its debts to Dana Gas, is that true? Prime Minister Barzani: Dana Gas’s case was settled in the London Court. We reached an agreement and solved the issues with Rosneft’s help. Q: The Federal Supreme Court of Iraq stated that secession from Iraq is unconstitutional. What is your opinion about that? Also, the US Congress has agreed to pay salaries of Peshmerga forces while Peshmerga’s name is not included in Iraq’s budget draft even though Peshmerga is listed as a defence force. Can you also give us an update on Kosrat Rasul’s health? Prime Minister Barzani: We have read and discussed the decision made by the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq and soon we will officially respond to it. I do not want to respond here. Regarding the decision of the US Congress, we had an agreement with the US Department of Defence to provide financial assistance for our Peshmerga. That agreement came to an end but we are trying to renew it. The US Congress has been considering our request and we thank them. Our Peshmerga deserve their help because they are part of the defence forces of Iraq, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism and ISIS. Regarding Kosrat Rasul, we are saddened by the news of his health. We are in contact with his doctors and his son, and we have been told his health is better. We pray that he will become even better soon and comes back to the important work we are all engaged in. Q: After the Iraqi Government cut Kurdistan Region’s share of the national budget, if the KRG does not reach an agreement with Baghdad, will the KRG be able to pay salaries of its employees? Also, there have been rumours going around that you will lead a delegation and visit Baghdad to negotiate. Is that true? Prime Minister Barzani: The new budget draft is the worst draft so far. The words and statements used in the draft are intended to divide Kurdistan Region’s political entity. Our stance is clear, the Iraqi Constitution clearly recognizes the Kurdistan Region and the KRG as a political entity. The governorates all agree insist on protecting that entity. We want to reach an agreement with the Iraqi Government, but according to the budget draft, the money that Baghdad has budgeted is insufficient for our Region. It is not enough even for a single governorate. If Baghdad is serious about supporting the Region with the agreed, fair share of the budget, we welcome it. It is obvious, however, they do not intend to do so. We have a modern biometric system in which all KRG employees are registered. If Baghdad sincerely really wants to pay salaries of the people of Kurdistan, we are accepting it. But Baghdad works in two different ways. On one hand, they tell the people of Kurdistan that they will pay their salaries, and on the other hand, they submit a budget draft to the Iraqi Parliament that not only is not enough to pay the salaries of the people, but also attempts to dismantle the Kurdistan Region, which is a constitutionally recognized entity. The Iraqi Government promises to pay salaries, but according to the budget draft, they actually are not ready to do so. If they want to pay the salaries of KRG employees, we are ready to collaborate with them. And, no, we have not decided to visit Baghdad. However, we are willing to start peaceful and serious negotiations with Baghdad in order to resolve outstanding issues. Q: Mr Prime minister, some Kurdish media and Turkish media stated that your attempt to visit Turkey and meet with Turkish officials has failed. Would you continue to arrange a visit to Turkey? My second question is about the Iraqi government’s response to the earthquake in the Kurdistan Region, did the Iraqi government contact you to show its readiness to help Kurdistan? The third question, what would be your comment about some talks which says Rosneft Company is going to offer the Kurdistan Region one billion US dollars. And my last question regarding employee salaries, how can the KRG pay salaries in the coming months. Prime Minister Barzani: Regarding the salaries, we can and will pay salaries for this month and the next month. About your last question, we have received from Rosneft an amount in accordance with the agreement we sign with international oil companies and no amount thereafter. Turkey is our neighbour and we seek good relations with all our neighbours. We look forward to visiting Turkey but so far there has been no failed attempt as you mention. The Iraqi Minister of Health has contacted our KRG Minister of Health, asking about earthquake casualties. Q: We hear that those who visit Baghdad from the KRG are only technical teams, why just technical teams are being sent to Baghdad? Prime Minister Barzani: First of all, everything and all problems should be solved between the KRG and the Iraqi Government in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution. These technical teams consist of KRG ministers who represent various sectors of our government of particular importance at this time, including finance and law, to engage in serious talks with Baghdad. Q: I have two questions, the first question; there are talks about a special team from Baghdad arriving in Erbil to review the KRG employees’ list. Is it true that Baghdad saying doesn’t want to work with the biometric system? The second question is related to the border crossing points with Iran. Why did Iran reopen some border crossings but some others are still closed? Prime Minister Barzani: Our biometric system is a very good system and we are now auditing all names on the list. What some people say about this system is not true; the system is very credible and is part of KRG reforms. We continue to review and auditing all persons in the list, that is why I cannot tell you the final number of employees at this time. The number of pensioners published in the media is not accurate. It was said there are more than 200,000 ghost names among retired people, which cannot be true, because the total number receiving pensions are 240,000. There are no Baghdad teams here in the Kurdistan Region. Regarding border crossings with Iran, this question should be asked of the Government of Iran. Iran has reopened the Beshmakh border crossing and it is anticipated the rest will also open, which is in the best interest of Iran itself and our Kurdistan Region. We are in contact with Iran on this issue and await their decision. Q: The US State Department announced the US is monitoring closely the situation and works with both KRG and Iraq to start a new round of talks. Is this helping Baghdad and Erbil to begin talks? My second question is this, the Iraqi government spokesperson said that Iraq works and treats the KRG and governorates as it did earlier, asserting that Baghdad respects the KRG and works with it, indicating Iraq has changed its attitude toward the Kurdistan Region. What is your comment on this? My last question is this, Kurdistan has a coordination office in Baghdad. Don’t you think now is the time to reactivate this office to bring Baghdad and Erbil closer together? Prime Minister Barzani: Dealing between the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi government is natural and necessary. Iraq should deal with the KRG in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution. Dealing directly with the governorates on regional issues instead of the KRG is unconstitutional. In reality, however, Baghdad doesn’t act according to what its leaders say. Let me give you some examples. They said we deal with the KRG and not governorates, but in the Iraqi Budget Draft for 2018, the name of KRG is not mentioned. They talk about governorates, which is not constitutional, because the KRG is a one administration. Another example, we are aware that Baghdad has issued an instruction to their staff that they must seek permission by indicating the governorate they intend to visit in the Kurdistan Region. Such action clearly contradicts what they say. What we see is that Baghdad is attempting to divide and dissolve the KRG, which is a clear and present danger to all political parties, other groups, and the people of Kurdistan. We hope, ask, and assert that all issues be resolved in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution. We want a serious dialogue according to the Constitution, which was approved by the Iraqi people. We expect Baghdad to act according the Constitution by implementing what the Constitution says. Many Iraqi Government decisions are unconstitutional, as are some decisions by the Iraqi Parliament against the Kurdistan Region. The Iraqi Constitution does not allow the federal government to act against the Kurdistan Region. But, unfortunately, the federal government chooses to act according to some articles and not on others. The Constitution is not a restaurant menu. We must accept and abide by each and every article. We thank the US State Department for supporting talks, but up until now no schedule for talks has been proposed. Regarding the coordination office, yes, it is important. If and when we start negotiations with Baghdad, this office will be reactivated with great care. Regarding the closing of media offices, this is a highly inappropriate decision and we look forward Baghdad reviewing and reversing their decision. Q: Mr. Prime Minister, there is also a crisis regarding a serious shortage of medicines because Baghdad is not allowing medicines to be sent to the Kurdistan Region. Could KRG provide sufficient medicines and other medical supplies to KRG Ministry of Health for the coming months? My second question is about the salaries of the Peshmerga. If Baghdad doesn’t intend to pay Peshmerga salaries, how will you deal with this issue? Prime Minister Barzani: We believe Kurdistan has the right to receive medicines and medical supplies up to 17 per cent of the total supplied to the whole country by the Iraqi Ministry of Health. The fight against ISIS is a very good example to illustrate the serious issues to be resolved with Baghdad. Our Peshmerga were vital to the liberation of Mosul where and when they acted as an integral part of the Iraqi defence force. The Iraqi federal government should act in accordance with the Constitution and provide the full, agreed 17 per cent share of the total national budget, not 12 per cent. We reached an agreement with the federal government in the presence of Mam Jalal and the Iraqi Finance Minister. I attended that meeting. If they want to arrange the budget according the population, let us have a credible general census in all of Iraq. This would accurately indicate Kurdistan’s share according to the population. In the meeting, we agreed that Baghdad would provide 17 per cent of total national budget and revenue until the results of a reliable census are known. At first we asked for 23 per cent but compromised on 17 per cent. Iraq should act according to this agreement until the general census is conducted. If there is a general census, we will agree and expect our share based on it. About medicines and medical supplies, Baghdad has sent some but Kurdistan’s share has been reduced. We are in contact with the federal Ministry of Health to solve this issue. Because of the 1.5 million refugees and IDPs we need much higher amounts than usual. Refugees and IDPs have increased Kurdistan’s population by almost 30 per cent. Hosting and caring for them has cost the KRG 1.5 billion US dollars to date. Q: Iraq decreased Kurdistan’s share to 12 per cent. How do you think about this, and will the KRG work on this issue until it gets its full share from the Iraqi national budget? Are the talks helpful in solving this problem? What would be the consequences? Prime Minister Barzani: First, the Kurdistan’s political parties will meet to decide this issue. We affirm the KRG Kurdistan will not agree to this reduced rate from the Iraqi budget, but at the same time we don’t seek to break with Baghdad. We will not close doors, we ask for dialogue. We can reach good resolution by solving problems through dialogue. The question is this, do we want permanent stability in Iraq, or do we want these problems to continue? If we want stability in Iraq, we have to reject dominance through power politics. We have to sit down and talk together to solve these problems. If Baghdad doesn’t want a stable country, then we will face the same problem in the future and what we experience today will continue. But the people of Kurdistan Kurdish will remain and will continue to ask for their rights. This is not about one political party, it is about one nation, who asks for their rights. The rights we seek are constitutional rights. This is in the Iraqi Constitution and we seek it according the Constitution. We thought about the Referendum because we are deeply disappointed with implementation of the Constitution. If our nation is confident about the future, and Iraq seriously works to implement the Constitution to protect our rights, then our nation will not go in another direction. So, Baghdad should think about the stability of Iraq, which includes Iraqi Kurdistan. The way to reach this is through serious dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad based on the Constitution approved by the Iraqi people. Q: Dear Mr Prime Minister, Baghdad says that KRG is going to send a political delegation to Baghdad, but Baghdad wants KRG to send a technical delegation to start talks, is that true? And my second question is about talks among Kurdistan’s political parties and internal talks in the Kurdistan Region. We know that it was expected to have a meeting with Kurdistan parliament factions yesterday, but Gorran made obstacles by not attending the meeting, do you think Gorran movement had influences on the internal talks and led to postponing the negotiations? Prime Minister Barzani: We didn’t hear from Baghdad about sending any delegations. The meeting was expected to be held but is just postponed until another date. I personally don’t see Gorran intended to make obstacles for the dialogue. We might hold this meeting during next week, no problem with that. Q: what is your expectation from USA to have a role in Iraq … [inaudible] Prime Minister Barzani: I think you had better to ask the Americans themselves. Regarding Iran, Iran is our neighbour and also Iraq’s neighbour. We want to have a good relation with all our neighbours. We want to have good relations with the USA, too. Our expectations from the USA have been shared with the US Consul General and other US representatives. The US State Department has official stated their desire to see a strong Kurdistan Regional Government. However, what we see in their statement is not, unfortunately, what is being done to protect the balance of peace and security in Iraq. What we seek is for the US Government to work to support dissolving tensions and solving problems between the KRG in Erbil and the federal government in Baghdad. Q: Mr Prime Minister, you talked about danger for KRG in the Draft Budget for 2018. How would KRG deal with this danger, because the people of Kurdistan are waiting for a new solution from you? Prime Minister Barzani: I already talked about this issue. I said we have to start talks with Baghdad to solve our problems. Dialogue is the only option, there is no more peaceful alternative than dialogue. We want to have dialogue with Baghdad and solve our problems according to the Constitution.
  8. KRG respects Supreme Court’s interpretation of Constitution, calls for full enforcement Sangar Ali | 3 hours ago Share share Kurdistan and Iraqi national flags. (Photo: Archive) Iraq Erbil Baghdad Relations Kurdistan ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – In a statement released on Tuesday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) stated that they respect the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court's recent interpretation of Article 1 of the constitution regarding secession in Iraq. The Federal Supreme Court of Iraq issued a decision on Nov. 6 stating that no region or province could unilaterally secede, strengthening the federal government’s hand as it seeks to prevent other movements such as the Sep. 25 independence vote in the Kurdistan Region. The ruling responded to a request from the Iraqi government in Baghdad to put an end to any “misinterpretation” of the constitution and to “assert the unity of Iraq,” a court spokesman said last week. “The Republic of Iraq is a federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is a parliamentary and democratic republic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq,” Article 1 of the Constitution of Iraq reads. The KRG welcomed the ruling of the court and stated that the Kurdistan Region respected the decision. “As we, in the Kurdistan Region, have always emphasized on finding solutions to disputes between the federal Authorities and the Kurdistan Region through constitutional and legal means, and based on our known position which welcomes all relevant initiatives, especially the initiatives by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al- Sistani, Iraqi dignitaries and friendly countries to the Iraqi people regarding addressing disputes on the basis of the Constitution, we respect the interpretation of the Federal Supreme Court of the First Article of the Iraqi Constitution,” read the KRG statement. The Kurdish government also called on launching a peaceful dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to address their differences. “We believe that this Decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq, as Article 1 stated,” the statement added. Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region. On Oct. 16, Iraqi Forces along with the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia launched a military operation and took over Kirkuk and other disputed territories which have been under the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga Forces in the past few years. Since then, Baghdad has been introducing measures to undermine the Kurdistan Region’s constitutional integrity. The erasing and renaming of the Kurdistan Region into ‘northern Iraq’ is seemingly becoming a policy enforced by the central government since the holding of the independence referendum. Baghdad is allegedly attempting to dissolve the KRG by trying to deal with provinces individually. In the draft 2018 budget introduced earlier this month, the bill referred to the Kurdistan Region as ‘the provinces of northern Iraq,’ opting to completely ignore the constitutionally-enshrined terminology and removing Kurdish rights. Editing by Nadia Riva
  9. Supreme Court decision re Article 1 Iraq Constitution.14/11/2017At the request of the Secretary General of the Iraqi Council of Ministers on November 5th, 2017, the Federal Supreme Court issued Decision No. 122 on November 6th, 2017, regarding the interpretation of the Article 1 of the Iraqi Constitution which states: “The Republic of Iraq is a federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is parliamentary and democratic republic, and this Constitution is a guarantor of the unity of Iraq.”As we, in the Kurdistan Region, have always emphasized on finding solutions to disputes between the federal Authorities and the Kurdistan Region through constitutional and legal means, and based on our known position which welcomes all relevant initiatives, especially the initiatives by the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al- Sistani, Iraqi dignitaries and friendly countries to the Iraqi people regarding addressing disputes on the basis of the Constitution, we respect the interpretation of the Federal Supreme Court of the First Article of the Iraqi Constitution.We believe that this Decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq, as Article 1 stated.Kurdistan Regional GovernmentNovember 14th, 2017
  10. #WORLD NEWS NOVEMBER 2, 2017 / 11:42 AM / UPDATED 31 MINUTES AGO Iraq wants control of Kurdish region's oil exports: state firm Reuters Staff 3 MIN READ BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq wants the Kurdistan region to stop independent crude exports and to hand over sales operations to the Iraqi state-oil marketer SOMO, the company’s director said on Thursday. Iraq is talking to Turkey to allow SOMO to sell the Kurdish crude that arrives by pipeline in Ceyhan, the Turkish terminal on the Mediterranean, acting SOMO director general Alaa al-Yasiri told reporters in Baghdad. About 530,000 barrels per day (bpd) used to arrive in Ceyhan via the pipeline until mid-October, of which about half came from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s oilfields and the rest from Kirkuk, a disputed province claimed by both the Kurdish region and Iraqi authorities in Baghdad. Output from Kirkuk fell in mid-October, when Iraqi forces took back control of the northern region’s oilfields from Kurdish fighters who had been there since 2014. Kurdish Peshmerga forces deployed in Kirkuk in 2014, when the Iraqi army fled in the face of an advance by Islamic State militants. The Kurdish move prevented the militants taking control of the oilfields. The pipeline carried on average 419,000 bpd in October, down from 600,000 bpd in September, said Farid al-Jadir, the director general of North Oil Company, which operates Kirkuk. NOC should resume exports from Kirkuk through the Kurdish pipeline this month, after the two sides agree on terms of use, Yasiri said. Kirkuk would also export by tanker trucks about 15,000 bpd to the refinery of Kermanshah in Iran, he added. Yasiri expected an old pipeline that bypasses most of the Kurdistan region to resume operation in three months. The pipeline was severely damaged by Islamic State after it took over Mosul’s Nineveh province in 2014. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces ousted the group from Mosul in July, after a nine-month campaign supported by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Iraq, the second-largest producer of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia, supported any future decision by the group to support oil prices, Yasiri said. OPEC is expected to extend curbs on oil output when it meets in Vienna at the end of month.
  11. Statement by an IMF Mission on Iraq KRG Council of Ministers statement on Iraq’s 2018 draft federal budget bill Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq ( – The Kurdistan Regional Government Council of Ministers issued a statement on the draft of Iraq’s 2018 federal budget bill and on statement by Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Haider Al-Abadi. Below is KRG Council of Ministers’ statement Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Haider Al-Abadi, has been stressing that the people of Kurdistan Region are first class citizens and that he will not allow them to be harmed, adding that he will also send the financial dues (salaries) of the civil servants of the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Council of Ministers welcomes this initiative to pay the salaries of the Kurdistan Region civil servants who number one million two hundred forty-nine thousand and four hundred eighty-one (1,249,481) and the total amount of their salaries is eight hundred ninety seven billions and five hundred million Iraqi Dinars (897, 500,000,000.00). These numbers are based on biometric registration of all the civil servants and pensioners of the Kurdistan Region. The KRG is ready to make this information available. Below are the details of the numbers: - 108 billion Iraqi Dinars are for the pensioners. - 38.5 billion Iraqi Dinars for the salaries of 96,053 families of the martyrs and victims of Anfal campaign. - 30 billion Iraqi Dinars for the salaries of 159,000 handicapped and Welfare Plan beneficiaries. - 455 billion Iraqi Dinars for the salaries of 483,307 civil servants, including the police. - 266 billion Iraqi Dinars for the salaries of 266,465 Peshmerga troops and security forces. Meanwhile the KRG Council of Ministers requests the Federal Iraqi Council of Ministers not to approve the draft bill of Iraq’s 2018 budget, which was prepared by the Federal Ministry of Finance without the participation of the Kurdistan Region and for the following reasons: 1. For the first time since 2003, the constitutional term “Kurdistan Region- Iraq” has been removed and instead the term “Kurdistan Region Governorates” is used. This is clear breach of Section (1) of Article (117) and Section (1) of Article (121) of the Iraqi Federal Constitution which recognizes the Kurdistan Region and its authorities as a Federal Region that has the right to exercise executive, legislative and judicial powers. So the Iraqi Constitution deals with the Kurdistan Region as an entity not as Governorates or provinces. 2. Reducing the budget share of the Kurdistan Region, which is happening for the first time since 2005, from 17 percent to 12.6 percent is a breach of Section (3) of Article (121) of the Iraqi Constitution which states: “Regions and governorates shall be allocated an equitable share of the national revenues sufficient to discharge their responsibilities … having regard to their resources, needs, and the percentage of their population”. However, since an official census has never been conducted in Iraq, both Erbil and Baghdad agreed to estimate the population of the Kurdistan Region at 17 percent of the total population of Iraq. It is on this basis a similar percentage of federal revenues have been allocated to the Kurdistan Region in all Iraqi Fiscal years. It is worth mentioning here, that the Kurdistan Region has never been given the full amount of this 17 percent due to the annual increase of Iraqi Federal sovereign expenditures, yet without the KRG participating in the allocation and spending of these expenditures or even getting a share of it. That is why reducing the Kurdistan Region share of the Federal Iraqi budget has no constitutional basis and has been decided outside the Erbil-Baghdad joint agreement. 3. Granting direct authorities to the governorates of the Kurdistan Region in the federal budget bill and dealing with the Kurdistan Region as “provinces” not as a Region, is a contradiction to Section (1) of Article (117) and Section (1) of Article (121) of the Iraqi Federal Constitution. Not dealing with the Kurdistan Region as one entity “Region” is a breach of the constitution. 4. Section (4) of Article (126) of the Iraqi Constitution prohibits the Federal Authorities from limiting or reducing the powers of the Kurdistan Region. The Constitution even does not allow any amendment of the Constitution that result in the reduction of the powers of the Kurdistan Region. 5. In addition to the repetition of the same flaws of previous years in the draft budget bill of 2018, now the above mentioned “unconstitutional points” have been added to the bill. Taking the above constitutional references into consideration and on the basis of Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Haider Al-Abadi’s statements of not intending to harm Kurdistan Region people, we ask the Federal Iraqi Council of Ministers to communicate and negotiate with the Kurdistan Region’s Council of Ministers in order to redraft the federal budget bill within the framework of the constitution and a fair allocation of budget to the Kurdistan Region. Kurdistan Region Council of Ministers 1 November 2017
  12. KRG WELCOMES PLANS BY IRAQI PM TO PAY SALARIES OF KURDISTAN PUBLIC SERVANTS 2 hours ago SULAIMANI – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) issued a statement on Wednesday (November 1) and welcomed plans by Baghdad to pay salaries of Kurdish Peshmerga forces and public servants who are on its payroll. “The KRG Council of Ministers welcomes the initiative by Mr. Abadi [Iraqi Prime Minister] to pay salaries of the Kurdistan Region’s employees,” the KRG statement read. The KRG said it assumes Baghdad to finance a total of 1,249,481 public servants, including Peshmerga forces, who have officially been employed in the region. Over 897 billion Iraqi dinars per month are needed on the basis of the biometric system on KRG payroll, according to the statement. The KRG expressed its opposition to a number of measures included in the Iraqi budget proposal for 2018 for being “unconstitutional,” and saying they hinder efforts to start Erbil-Baghdad negotiations: The KRG said measures included are ones which would see Kurdistan budget share reduced by over five percent for first time since 2005. The Iraqi budget draft for 2018 awaiting approval of the parliament in Baghdad also referred to the Kurdistan Region as “the government of Kurdistan's provinces”, according to KRG. Iraqi Prime Minister, Haidar al-Abadi on Tuesday (October 31) announced plans to soon begin disbursing salaries of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and public servants who are on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) payroll. Abadi didn’t say when exactly salaries of KRG employees will be paid and whether they will be paid in full. According to a salary withholding system which is in effect by the KRG, government employees face cuts between 15 and 75 percent. Salaries for KRG employees have been plagued by delays since 2014 and Kurdish authorities have repeatedly said they cannot make payments due to a number of crises affecting the region. “We will soon be able to pay all the salaries of the Peshmerga and the employees of the region,” Abadi told reporters during a press conference.
  13. OCTOBER 31, 2017 / 4:25 PM / UPDATED 41 MINUTES AGO Iraq to pay Kurdish Peshmerga, region's civil servants -PM Abadi Reuters Staff 1 MIN READ BAGHDAD, Oct 31 (Reuters) - The Iraqi government plans to soon start paying the salaries of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and civil servants working for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters on Tuesday.
  14. As security improves, Iraq banks seek a rebound. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi talks during his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, in Baghdad, Iraq. Tillerson made an unannounced trip to Iraq Monday, just hours after returning from a similar surprise visit ... more > Print By Dan Boylan - The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2017 Iraq’s leading bankers say the country’s oil-rich but war-ravaged economy has stabilized enough to allow a return to the world’s capital markets for the first time in a decade with a successful new bond sale. Iraqi Private Banks League Executive Director Ali Tariq said in an interview that the main challenges are to get the word out internationally on the national economy’s rebound, but also to convince average Iraqis to have more faith in their own economy — especially its growing private bank sector. “Iraqi private banks have successfully navigated the post-conflict environment,” Mr. Tariq said on a Washington visit for the IMF annual meeting as well as to make investor presentations. “But we have so much more to achieve, especially getting Iraqis to pull their cash out from under their beds and put it into the banks.” While the clash over the Kurdish region’s independence referendum has ruffled feathers in Baghdad, Mr. Tariq said regional investors view the crisis as much more manageable than the deadly struggle with Islamic State, which has waned dramatically this year. Inflation is also stable, holding at 1 percent this year despite the stimulus provided by increasing oil exports. With the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves and oil exports that constitute 34 percent of the GDP, Iraq is the Middle East’s fifth-largest economy, with the fourth-highest per capita GDP at $17,354. As a sign of brightening investor opinion, Fitch Ratings recently upgraded Iraq’s economic outlook from negative to stable, thus laying the groundwork for August’s bond sale. Managed by Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the sale saw international investors seeking emerging-country debt quickly snap up $1 billion in standalone bonds.
  15. PM Barzani: Iraqi military operations hinder dialogue By Rudaw 15 minutes ago Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has said that his government is ready to begin talks with Baghdad on the basis of the Iraqi constitution. Photo: Rudaw TV ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Continued Iraqi military operations are hindering efforts to start dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters after heading a government meeting on the mass civilian displacement from Kirkuk and other disputed areas. His comments came as Kurdistan’s Security Council issued warned that Iraqi forces were building up on the Kurdistan Region borders. Kurds are still reeling from last week’s loss of the disputed areas, which were taken over by Iraqi forces. At least two political parties have called for the regional government to be dissolved and for the president and vice president to resign. PM Barzani said the Kurdish people have been through worse times and he is hopeful they will rise again. He said his government welcomes calls for a peaceful resolution to the crisis that have come from the international community, influential cleric Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. There is, however, no schedule yet to send a delegation to Baghdad, he said. “If we hear from Baghdad, we are in fact ready to send a delegation to have serious talks, to open a new page, to have serious meetings, and to resolve all the problems in the framework of the Iraq constitution in a peaceful way,” PM Barzani said. “The biggest problem is that their military operations are continuing in many places. Unfortunately continued military operations will both affect the stability of these areas and will definitely make problems for this process that is to happen – dialogue.” The Iraqi PM just completed a regional tour that took him to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt where he received messages of support for the protection of a united Iraq, a blow to Kurdish independence aspirations after 92.7 percent of voters supported separation from Iraq in last week’s referendum. PM Abadi, who is expected to visit Turkey this week, has said that the Kurdish referendum is dead. Asked about the call from Gorran, Kurdistan’s second-largest party, to dissolve the government and for President Masoud Barzani to leave his office, PM Barzani said they are open to listening to the concerns of Gorran and other parties, but stressed that the current government is inclusive. He said that President Barzani has never denied that his term, which expired in 2013, in office is over and has vowed that he will not run for office again. He said the president, who is his uncle, will respect the region’s laws and hinted that the reasons for keeping the president in office beyond his term no longer exist, mainly the war against ISIS. The Kurdistan Region’s election commission has stopped preparations for parliamentary and presidential elections set for November 1 because of a lack of candidates and the unstable situation. The parliament is expected to convene this week to discuss the elections, as well as confrontations between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the disputed areas. Asked about sentiments among Kurds that the loss of Kirkuk has no parallel in the nation’s century-long quest for independence, PM Barzani expressed faith in Kurds’ resiliency. “I believe that Kurds had seen even worse situations that we experienced and survived. What is important is how we will survive this situation. What is important now is the unity of the Kurdistani house,” he said. Unity is needed now more than ever to fight those who plot to divide Kurds, he said, stressing that the blame game between Kurdish political parties will not matter. “It is not time for anyone to trade blame. It is time for unity,” he said, leaving it to historians to assess what went wrong last week. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday at a joint press conference in Moscow with his Iraqi counterpart that Russia would continue business and diplomatic ties with the Kurdistan Region, but in coordination with Baghdad. PM Barzani welcomed Lavrov’s remarks, but asserted that the Kurdistan Region is entitled to sign oil and gas contracts with foreign companies. Such business deals “do not have anything with politics,” he said. Asked about the international support, PM Barzani said with a smile that every country has expressed in words that they support solving problems in light of the Iraqi constitution. “We have to see in the future how that unfolds in practice,” Barzani said. Kurdistani parties excluding Gorran and Komal have commissioned the government to hold talks with Baghdad. The Kurdistan Regional Government has welcomed in particular an initiative from the United States that calls for a ceasefire, talks to begin between the two governments, and resolving the disputed territories as per the Iraqi constitution.

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