Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (C) meeting with Nechirvan Barzani (2nd from L), premier of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in Baghdad, January 20, 2018 (Photo by AFP)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (01:05 PM) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on the country’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to place back all control over the regional oil exports under the central authority of Baghdad, as the area is after all part of Iraq.

Abadi made the comment on Saturday, during a meeting with Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) prime minister Nechirvan Barzani. The Iraqi premier also reiterated that Baghdad has certain conditions that the Kurds have to meet before the sanctions that were placed on the KRG after September’s unconstitutional independence vote, could be lifted.

A statement issued by Abadi’s office says that one of these conditions is that all airports and border crossings in Iraqi Kurdistan have to be given back to central government control, and can no longer be dominated by regional armed militias.

Furthermore, the statement reaffirmed the “position of the [Iraqi] government that it is necessary to commit to the borders of the [Kurdistan] Region as stipulated by the constitution,” which is a clear call on the KRG to withdraw its forces from all non-Kurdish territories that it still claims control over. The clearest example of this was the KRG takeover of the Arab-majority city of Kirkuk in 2014, that was retaken by Iraqi forces after a short but bloody battle against Kurdish militias in October 2017.

Lastly, Haider al-Abadi reportedly proposed an “oil-for-budget” proposal, as reported by the Kurdish-language Rudaw news outlet, which “will allow the KRG to receive its share of the budget in return for allowing the Iraqi government to export and sell oil produced by the Kurdish government.”
Up until now, the KRG has been maintaining its own independent policy of exporting crude oil to foreign nations, a policy that Baghdad wants to put an end to.

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Tensions between Baghdad and Erbil remain tense after a KRG independence vote in September 2017 was declared unconstitutional by Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court.

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Historian specialized in Arab history, Islamic studies and geopolitical analysis. Based in Belgium.

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