Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks to press in Baghdad on Tuesday January 10, 2018. Photo: PM Media Office
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered the Iraqi military to resume security talks with their Kurdish counterparts and announced another delegation will discuss international borders with KRG authorities.
“I instructed for meetings of the military committee to take place on a more regular basis,” Abadi said on Tuesday evening, adding that the chief of staff of the Iraqi military will head Baghdad’s delegation and the Peshmerga minister will head the Kurdish side.
Iraqi and Kurdish military officials engaged in a series of security talks after Abadi announced a ceasefire in late October. The talks however yielded no results with each side blaming the other
. Iraq said they had reached an agreement that was not honoured by Peshmerga, while the Kurdish ministry stated that demands presented by Iraq threatened the security of the Kurdistan Region.
Abadi said there will also be a “big delegation” to resolve the issue of Kurdistan’s international borders and to follow through on Baghdad’s demand for the Peshmerga to withdraw to pre-2003 borders that separated the then-Iraqi regime from the Kurdistan Region.
The Iraqi prime minister had said earlier that the constitution allows for joint administration of entry points, including airports, but maintained that the border strip must be under the exclusive federal authorities.
There was no immediate response from the Kurdish side.
Erbil has stated on many occasions that they are ready to negotiate with Baghdad within the framework of the Iraqi constitution. The KRG has demanded joint administration of the borders as well the disputed areas.
Abadi asserted that the Kurdistan Region has not followed through on public promises made in press conferences abroad.
In Paris on December 2, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said his government does not have a problem with Iraq imposing federal authority provided it is “per the Iraqi constitution.”
Abadi also challenged the Kurdish record on transparency over oil exports and revenues and raised the issue of the KRG state salaries, claiming Baghdad has not received the Region’s employee list despite claims from Erbil to the contrary.
A delegation formed by the KRG’s education and health ministers visited Baghdad on Thursday and said they handed over an updated list of their employees to their Iraqi counterparts.
Abadi repeated that they are “committed” to paying the salaries of the Kurdistan Region, but warned that Baghdad will make payments “in our own way, not their way.”
He called on the Kurdistan Region to be transparent with the Iraqi government and the people of Kurdistan with regards to oil revenues. He claimed the KRG exported about 9 trillion dinars ($7.538 billion) of oil in 2017, but the money was not used to pay the salaries or serve the Kurdish people.
The KRG has refuted Abadi’s figures in the past and on Monday Barzani announced they will release an audit conducted by one of the world’s largest financial institutions of the KRG’s oil and gas sector’s activities for the first half of 2017.
“We don’t want anything,” Abadi said. “Publish the figures about how much you exported, at which price, and where the money went. It does not exist in the Kurdistan Region at all. It did not enter bank accounts of the Region. In which bank account is there the money? Where did it go, and how have the funds been used?”
Relations between Erbil and Baghdad reached an all-time low in mid-October when Iraqi forces took control of the disputed areas following Kurdistan’s independence vote in September.
The two sides have yet to commit to political dialogue despite repeated calls from international allies.