KRG PM Barzani warns patience with Baghdad fading
AA PhotoKurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has warned that patience is running out with the central government over oil exports and budget issues.
“We were expecting to reach an agreement with Iraq and for that we have shown a lot of patience, but our patience has a limit,” Barzani said in Arbil, warning they will have their “own solution” if there is no agreement, Rudaw website reported.
The two sides are locked in a row over energy exports, in which Baghdad has choked off funds to the northern region, draining its reserves, as the two regions spar over a national budget that would penalize the Kurdish government for failing to meet export targets, as well as other issues tied to energy sector regulation. The central government and the Kurdish autonomous government differ over how to interpret the constitution’s references to oil and how revenues should be shared. The Kurdish share was set at 17 percent after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, although the Kurds frequently complain they receive less than that.
Barzani said Baghdad still has not sent the KRG budget payments for March and April. “They only have only sent the budget for January and February’s salaries, which wasn’t enough, despite having dispensed the share of all other Iraqi provinces,” he said.
Praise to Turkey ties
Barzani also praised ties with Turkey. Last week, he met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara. “There is a good understanding between Turkey and the Kurdistan Region in all aspects, especially on energy,” said Barzani.
“Turkey has no issues with the Kurdistan Region exporting oil,” added Barzani. “They have a clear policy and say ‘it’s your oil and you can sell it.’”
The Kurds have sent more than 1 million barrels of oil through a new pipeline into storage tanks at Ceyhan in Turkey. Baghdad wants to keep trade under its control and Ankara is waiting for Iraq’s blessing before allowing exports to begin.