Baghdad refuses to pay Peshmarga budget for seven years
Kurdish MPS vow not to vote for a budget that excludes Peshmargas
Kurdish blocks at the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Parliament, argue without allocating budget for the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmarga forces in the country’s national budget for 2013, they would not vote for the draft.
Ministry of Finance and Economy of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) argues that the budget of Peshmargas has not been paid since 2007 till 2013, which amounts to IQD 7.7 trillion (approximately US$ 6.4 billion), is still with the central government and Baghdad has continuously refused to pay that to KRG.
Qassim Mohammed member of the Iraqi Parliament on the Kurdistani Bloc, states that all Kurdish blocks at the parliament agree that without the Peshmarga budget, they would not vote for the budget draft.
“Now all the Kurdistani blocks, including Gorran Bloc, are in agreement that Peshmarga budget should be made clear in the bud- get, rather than keeping it like an advance payment,” said MP Mohammed in an interview with the Kurdish Globe. “Otherwise, we will not vote for the 2013 budget of Iraq.”
MP Mohammed also added that both KRG and Baghdad government should reach an agreement about the Peshmarga issue in the draft budget of 2013; and the Iraqi government should see Peshmarga forces as part of the country’s defense system, and in addition to the budget it should have share in the supplies, war equipment and in the weapon purchase contracts.”
According to Paragraph 5 of Clause 13 of the draft Iraqi budget of 2013, based on the mutual agreement between the Iraqi ministerial council and its Kurdish counterpart, all the budget, benefits, rainings, equipment and arms that have not yet been paid since 2007 will be spent on the basis of advance payments.
MP Muayyad Tayyib, spokesperson of the Kurdistani Alliance Bloc at the Iraqi Parliament reitereated that the Peshmarga budget was among the most prominent pending issues between Region and Center and said “this should be agreed upon once forever and we should not have the same problems every year.”
In an interview with the Kurdish Globe MP Tayyib said we want to include Peshmarga budget into Iraq’s budget to stop post- poning it year after year, as it has been overlooked for many years now while Peshmarga Forces are part of the Iraqi defense system.”
Kurds have a unified voice
Latif Sheikh Mustafa, member of the Iraqi Parliament on the Kurdish Gorran Bloc, argues that his bloc is in agreement with all other Kurdish blocs about the issue.
“We [Kurdish blocs] will be unified in Baghdad especially about the Peshmarga budget, since this money is for the people of Kurdistan Region and we defend it,” MP Mustafa told the Globe. “Baghdad has to pay Peshmarga budget.”
In a press conference early February, Kurdish Peshmarga Minister Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa said the number of Peshmarga forces is 200,000 while Baghdad wants them to be only 70,000. According to the Wikipedia the number of Iraq’s armed forces reaches 820,600.
Halgurd Mala Hikmat, Director of Media at the KRG Peshmarga Ministry, told the Globe that according to the constitution and the law Peshmarga is part of the Iraqi defense system, but this cannot be seen in practice and the Iraqi government is not keen to resolve this issue.”
Commenting on the advance payments allocated by the central government, Hikmat says his ministry has not received any advance payments from Baghdad, but rather they are completely funded by the KRG.
Kurdish peshmarga drive tanks with Kurdish flag during a military maneuver.