Iraqi foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Mahjoub holds a press conference at Qatar's Foreign Ministry Office in Doha on Monday. Photo: Iraq FM
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq announced that foreign missions with offices in the Kurdistan Region will be able to continue their work despite tensions between Baghdad and Erbil.
Ahmed Mahjoub, the spokesperson for Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, said the work performed by foreign consulates in Erbil is a service for all Iraqis and not a political activity.
Mahjoub specifically referenced "the file of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq" at a press conference in Doha with Qatari diplomats.
There are no instructions from the federal government at the moment to close these consulates, stated Mahjoub.
Jaafari also encouraged Qatari Foreign Minister Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to open an embassy in Baghdad.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) conducts diplomacy through its Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), but must get the approval of the Iraqi foreign ministry to conduct its work.
Relations between Baghdad and the KRG have soured since October 15, when Iraq sent its army and Iran-backed Shiite paramilitaries into disputed or Kurdistani areas which had been under KRG administration. Deadly clashes resulted.
Baghdad has taken punitive measures, such as closing Kurdistan's airports to international travel, not recognizing residency in the Kurdistan Region, preventing Iraqi banks in the Kurdistan Region from receiving foreign currency, and proposing a 2018 budget that reduces the Kurdistan Region's budget by more than 5 percent.
Baghdad had also publicly called on all foreign missions to close their offices
in the Kurdistan Region.
More than 20 countries have consulates in the Kurdistan Region. In addition, several trade offices, international organization posts, aid agency representations, and honorary consulates have been opened in Erbil and Sulaimani.
The KRG also operates 14 representation offices abroad.