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Kurdish Deputy PM Talabani: Kurdistan's economic woes threaten ISIS fight

By Rudaw 16/1/2016
Iraqi Kurdistan's deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani
Iraqi Kurdistan's deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region--Iraqi Kurdistan's deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani told Reuters on Thursday that his region may be devastated by an economic "tsunami" which could fatally undermine the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. 

"The world is focused on the war against ISIS but nobody wins a war bankrupt," he explained. "I think this is something the coalition against ISIS really do need to factor into the equation." 

He pointed out that the failure of the regional government to pay the salaries of state employees has undermined morale and may in the long-term compromise the fight itself. Many Peshmerga soldiers combating ISIS on the Kurdistan Region's front-lines with that group haven't been paid in months. 

"The most dangerous impact it can have is on morale," Talabani told Reuters, "We are getting desertions. People are leaving their posts -- it will increase." 

A lot of revenue for the Kurdistan Region comes from oil and after Baghdad withheld its budget in early 2014 Erbil has sought to export oil independently. However the global drop in the price of oil (down from $100 a barrel just two years ago to a mere $30 today) has further augmented Kurdistan's economic woes.

Talabani doesn't believe it will make any different whether Erbil opts to export oil independently or try to return to some kind of revenue sharing agreement with Baghdad. "At this oil price, a couple of hundred thousand barrels here or there is not going to fix Baghdad's problems and it's not going to fix ours. We have to think of another formula to fix our economic problems." 

"We're not bankrupt yet but if we don't enact structural and actual reforms the current situation is not sustainable," Talabani explained adding that reforms are underway. Primary changes to be made will be downsizing the very large public sector which most of the working population depends on for their pay as well as privatizing parts of the region's electricity sector. 

"This is a tsunami," he added, "Either we react and respond to it or get dragged under. The initial step is to stop the ship from sinking." 

On the war front Talabani is not optimistic about a liberation of Mosul by the end of 2016. "I don't think the Mosul offensive could happen this year. I don't think the Iraqi armed forces are ready and I don't think the [American-led] coalition is confident in the ability of everyone to get ready in time for an offensive this year," he said.


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Stewee Guy
Stewee Guy | 16/1/2016
I think dominating the politics of Iraqi Kurdistan by the 2 families Talibani and Barzani and the Kurdish political Islam is worst than the effect of ISIS on Kurdistan.
Carl | 16/1/2016
Mr Deputy, the KRG said it was ating om downsizing public sector and burocrazy already 6 months ago. Maybe that was only half measures in order to try to convince others that KRG was doing anything.... In reality, maybe there is no such thing as a united kurdistan, You have two large parties with their own miitia (yes yo call it peshmerga, but right now this force is not a national force). Also the parties keep loyal supporters by emplying people in useless public sector jobs. And all this you expect other nations to supply money for? Maybe it is too late, but at least Kurdistan har all the chances to be prosperous. But instead they used their golden years by throwing away the money and by political favours. I think the political elite should have a close look at themselves in the mirror. You are about to blow a historic opportunity. That is something for the history books!
Muraz Adzhoev | 16/1/2016
"The initial step is to stop the ship from sinking", that is why the "reaction and response" to the coming "tsunami" is independence and establishment of a sovereign state in order to become at last a free equal member of the international community and to start actually creative "structural reforms" in Kurdistan. Baghdad is not interested in liberating Mosul. They are not capable and willing to do it on the one hand, and on the other hand the first thing for them is to defend only their own Shiite-land. They in fact do not want to fight and take efforts for already deadly failed and fully divided Iraq. Are not PUK and other "opposition parties" political leaders aware of this obvious fact yet? What have they being "opposing" lately? They have been opposing independence and sovereignty, actual structural political, social, legal and economic reforms in democratic and secular Southern Kurdistan in favor of the Kurdish people's national unity and integrity.
Adam | 16/1/2016
Dear Qubad, "Many Peshmerga soldiers combating ISIS on the Kurdistan Region's front-lines with that group haven't been paid in months" - have you and your colleagues been paid though? On a leadership and compassion ground - how many of you (prime ministers, ministers and Kurdish president) has come out on media to apologise to Peshmerga and their family, and to poor among us and hard working teachers and employees in the public sector? They all deserve an apology reservedly for the poor performance of "government" and parties in the last 25 years. You should admit that the government has not been run by expert and competent people in the last 25 years. We are blaming Baghdad and drop in oil price, yes these are factors, but we are feeling the crunch badly because we don't have a working economy, there are no infrastructures in any sector mainly all the top job were occupied by non-expert who think that a top job means driving to an office every day in a convoy of car, sign of a list of written papers (a copy to here and there), have many secretaries and bodyguards. You know this, we know this, everybody know this, this is not how a country is run. Your "chaksazi" should really listen and bring back Dlawer Aladdin who has a vast experience and understanding and have strong academics people behind him who can advise on many fronts for now and future. This is the guy who single handedly reformed the higher education system. This is the sort of people you should talk to very often and hire them in the government. Secondly, you should avoid peoples both in the parties and in the govenment who are there just because he's back by a Masoul here and there and has no qualification. They are a drag on the parties and a drag on the govenment. No matter if they are a person in an office or a minister or a high rank party member. You should re-invent the parties into more academic party, make them more like a 21 centries party. otherwise like you put we will only sink on the ship and no way back. It's a dreadful situation that people are in at the moment. Just saying this again. You and your colleague, prime minisrer and Kurdish president should really come on Tv and Media at least apologise to people to Peshmerga for the mess the country is in. show your leadership and compassion. Give a really sincere publish speed to raise the moral of people. They deserve one! Thank you
M | 16/1/2016
Please privatize the electricity. That should have been done years ago!!

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