Kurdish students of the Salahaddin University, wave the Kurdish flag as they demonstrate in Erbil on December 11, 2017, against the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi who failed to mention Peshmerga in his victory speech over ISIS . Photo: AFP/Safin Hamed
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – While the Kurdistan Region is in favor of holding dialogue with the Iraqi government to resolve their outstanding issues, it has set a plan B if such talks fail to take place, a senior advisor to KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Rudaw.
The KRG has prepared two options with regards to the 2018 budget and the salary of state employees: if it reaches an agreement with the Iraqi government which remains Erbil’s main objective. If not, it will rely on its oil and non-oil revenues to cover the salaries and basic services.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government has worked on both options
,” Dilshad Shahab, the KRG advisor said on Friday night.
“The KRG has not set all of its plans exclusively based on talks with Haider al-Abadi,” he added.
“We would like to have dialogue, we want the door for dialogue to be open, but this is not the only door and hope to govern the [Region],” he explained.
Baghdad has cut the KRG’s share of the budget since early 2014 following Erbil’s plans to export oil to the international market independent of Baghdad.
Erbil argues it is entitled to 17 percent of the Iraqi budget for 2018, a demand so far refused by the Iraqi government.
The Iraqi government has not committed to talks with Erbil despite the growing international pressure and the KRG’s repeated call for negotiation based on the Iraqi constitution.
The Iraqi parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on May 12, something Shahab said negatively affects any hopes for talks between the Kurdish and Iraqi governments.
Kurdish rights have been held hostage by the election campaigns of Iraqi parties, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Dawa Party, Shahab argued.
He claimed that PM Abadi has failed to follow words with actions such as his promise to pay the salaries of Kurdish employees.
PM Abadi has said on more than one occasion that he is prepared to send the salaries on the condition that it will audit the list of registered people on KRG’s payroll. He said earlier this month that the audit had begun, something the KRG denied.
PM Barzani has been invited to visit Germany early next week, followed by a visit to the United Kingdom, both at the invitations of these two foreign countries. He visited France in early December.
This shows that the KRG has taken “the right steps” with regards to the disagreements with the Iraqi government that focuses on dialogue through peaceful means, Shahab argued
The relations between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments reached an all-time low following the Iraqi-imposed Kurdish vote on independence that saw nearly 93 percent of the people voting to leave Iraq.
A ceasefire announced in late October following deadly clashes between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the disputed or Kurdistani areas such as the oil-rich Kirkuk province remains in place.