Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addresses the Iraqi nation on September 20, 2017. Photo: PM media office
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has hinted that his government wants to take control of revenue generated from Kurdish oil exports, following the controversial ban on international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region.
The measure is the latest of a set of measures taken by Baghdad against the Kurdistan Region for carrying out last week's referendum that saw a 92-percent vote for independence.
Abadi said in a tweet that his government wanted to pay monthly salaries of KRG employees with money from Kurdish oil sales.
“Federal government control of oil revenues is in order to pay KR [Kurdistan Region] employee salaries in full and so that money will not go to the corrupt,” Abadi tweeted.
The Kurdistan Region has described the Iraqi-imposed flight ban, and other measures as “collective punishment,” that, among others, affect the wounded Kurdish Peshmerga who need medical treatment abroad, and Yezidi survivors of ISIS atrocities.
KRG’s minister of transport Mawlood Bawa Murad stated on Saturday that more than 1,000 Peshmerga wounded fighting ISIS are in desparate need of medical attention outside the country.
Amanj Rahim, the secretary of the Kurdistan Regional Government, told the Kurdish parliament Saturday evening that the oil export through Turkey’s Ceyhan was going as normal. The parliament met on Sunday to condmen and reject all of Baghdad's measures against the KRG.
Abadi said that his government treated Kurds as equal Iraqi citizens and that he would "refuse every call for division and separation.”
The Kurdish leadership under President Masoud Barzani have stressed before and following the referendum that they want to engage in negotiations with the central government, emphasizing that under no circumstnces will the referendum and its results be cancelled.
Among those mounting pressure on the Kurdish region for the referendum which has been described as "free and fair" by many observers, is the Lebanese militia group of Hezbollah.
The leader of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, criticised the kurdish vote as a US-Israeli plot to divide the region.
“It will open the door to partition, partition, partition,” Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Lebanese Hezbollah, said as reported by Reuters. “partition means taking the region to internal wars whose end and time frame is known only to God.”
According to Hezbollah's al-Manar TV, he also said that all Arab countries should stand against the Kurdish plans, otherwise the plot reaches every country in the Middle East, foremost Iran’s staunch regional rival, Saudi Arabia.
Kurdish President Barzani said at a rally on the eve of the referendum that it was the expression of the ambitions of millions of Kurds and not the act of any individual leader or party, calling on the "democratic world" to respect the will of the people.