The Central Bank of Iraq says that banks that do not comply will longer receive foreign currency from the Iraqi-controlled financial regulator. File photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Central Bank of Iraq has called on all Iraqi banks in the country to halt their operations in the Kurdistan Region indefinitely. Any bank that disobeys will no longer receive foreign currency transfers from the central bank.
The move is seen as part of the punitive measures taken by the government of Iraq against the Kurdistan Region in response to the vote for independence held on September 25 despite the opposition of Iraq, neighboring countries, and others including the United States.
In an official letter dated November 7, a copy of which Rudaw has obtained, the Central Bank points to instructions from the Iraqi parliament sent on October 12 that stipulate the Central Bank must “not sell foreign currencies to the banks working in [Kurdistan] Region or those who have branches there.”
Banks were given one week to inform Iraq’s financial regulator of what steps they have taken to halt their operations in the Kurdistan Region if they want to continue to buy and sell foreign currencies with the Central Bank.
It added that the measures will be in place until otherwise announced at a later date.
Iraq has taken a number of punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region following the independence vote, including military operations and a ban on international flight to and from the Region.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has described such measures as “collective punishment.”
The KRG has offered to freeze the outcome of the nearly 93-percent vote for independence in return for open dialogue with Baghdad, but the Iraqi government has so far rejected this offer.
An Iraqi Federal Court has ruled that the Iraqi constitution does not allow any component to separate from the rest of the country. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that this decision is in effect in every part of the country, include the Kurdistan Region.
The United Nations mission in Iraq called on the KRG to declare that it will “respect and endorse” the verdict.
The KRG has yet to comment on the ruling.