Saad Hadithi, spokesperson of the Iraqi government. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – According to Iraq’s Office of the Prime Minister, Baghdad has just one condition to enter into talks with Erbil: the cancellation of Kurdistan’s referendum results.
Saad al-Hadithi told Iraq’s Al-Sabah newspaper that the federal government has not specified any preconditions to enter negotiations with the Kurdistan Region other than revoking its referendum.
The spokesperson for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi denied that the central government has relented on its key conditions to negotiate with KRG.
He added that statements on reducing the conditions are not true.
The KRG has welcomed any steps to set the table for dialogue with Baghdad without pre-conditions.
Baghdad wants the KRG to be committed to the law and constitution in order for the problems to be resolved, Hadithi said, reiterating his government’s stance.
The Iraqi government hardened its stance on the KRG after the Kurdistan Region held a referendum on independence in September 2017.
The KRG agreed to “freeze” the result of the referendum. The Iraqi government has maintained that it wants the outcome “cancelled.”
An Iraqi Federal Court then said that Iraq is a parliamentary and democratic republic with the constitution as the guarantor of its unity, saying it could become the basis for dialogue.
The KRG agreed to"respect” the court’s ruling.
Abdullah Zaidi, in charge of the Kurdistan Region portfolio for the National Alliance said only by KRG “committing” to the rulings which concluded seperation is unconstitutional can the foundation for Erbil-Baghdad talks be reached.
The referendum, incursions by Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries into disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both capitals, continued disputes over the KRG’s budget share, salaries, and control of international points of entry like border gates and international airports remain unresolved between Baghdad and Erbil.
No high-level political talks have taken place between Erbil and Baghdad so far, but there recently have been gestures of good will on the part of the Iraqi government to address Kurdish concerns and commence dialogue with Erbil.
Baghdad paid the November salaries of KRG dam employees.
Technical teams from the KRG went to Baghdad in December and met with the ministers of health and interior after Abadi promised to pay the salaries of KRG employees as they are audited, group-by-group and beginning with employee lists like teachers and essential security personnel.
Two delegations from the KRG education and health ministries on Thursday visited Baghdad to share payroll lists of their employees with the Iraqi government for audit.
Abadi said on Tuesday the KRG will not get a 17-percent share of the federal budget, which Baghdad has not paid since early 2014.
Iraqi President Fuad Masum, who is a PUK politician, has asked Abadi to amend the 2018 draft budget bill as it contains a number of constitutional violations including an attempt to derecognize the Kurdistan Regional Government, according to an official letter.
On Thursday, delegations from the Change movement (Gorran), Islamic Group (Komal) and Coalition for Democracy and Justice on Thursday went to Baghdad in an attempt to thaw the ice between Erbil and Baghdad.
Gorran and Komal became opposition parties when they withdrew from the KRG in December 2017. The Coalition for Democracy and Justice was newly established by Barham Salih, a former KRG prime minister.