The tale of Baghdad-Kurdistan Region issues
Many think Kurdish independence is the best solution for the Baghdad-Kurdistan Region issues
There have been several ongoing issues between Baghdad and Kurdistan for several years now. The issues, which mostly concern oil and gas, the region’s budget, Article140 and the Peshmarga budget, have been deepening day by day. No solutions have yet been found.
The oil pipeline carrying oil from Kurdistan Region to Turkey have become the most critical issue between Baghdad and the Region. The Iraqi Government is worried about the project and has imposed penalties upon the region which include cutting the Region’s share of the Iraqi General Budget in case the Region proves unable to export 400,000 barrels of oil per day. Since the Kurdish representatives are not yet ready to vote on the law pertaining to the project, the issues have remained outstanding and the two sides are still in discussion.
Kurdish officials believe it will be impossible to find a permanent solution to the issues, and that whatever solution is found will be temporary.
The former advisor on Kurdistan Region Affairs to the Iraqi PM, Adel Barwari, said an attempts should be made to solve the longstanding issues: “The Iraqi constitution talks of the Kurds being oppressed and of the need for compensation. It talks about Article 140, which relates to the disputed areas. These issues have to be solved first.”
Barwari said that, constitutionally, no government can be formed without the Kurds, since the Kurds and the Arabs are the two main nations in Iraq. Unfortunately, the Kurds have always been neglected.
In Barwari’s view, if Turkey, America, and Iraq’s neighbors want to see a quiet and safe Iraq, they should try and help solve the issues between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region.
The best solution for the issues, according to Barwari, is to divide Iraq into three regions.
The Iraqi Trade Minister, Khairullah Hassan, believes the solutions for the Baghdad-Kurdistan Region issues are based on implementing the existing laws and issuing new ones.
“We already have some laws that can solve some of the issues, but unfortunately they are not implemented. We also need to have some new laws, but no attempts have been made to draw them up. In Iraq, issues are not solved using the law, which is why every solution is only temporary,” he explained.
Hassan said anyone in the country can interpret the constitution as they want based on their own interests and criticise the other for not adhering to the constitution.
According to Hassan, PM Maliki is against providing the Peshmarga’s budget, because he says the Peshmarga are not part of the Defence Ministry.
Hassan accused the Iraqiya list of deliberately impeding the implementation of Article 140. He also said the Kurds are accused of not abiding by the agreements, which is why the oil issues are not yet solved.
In terms of a solution, Hassan disagrees with Barwari and thinks the Kurds should come up with a longterm strategy for independence. But Hassan believes that economic independence has to come first.
“As long as we are not independent economically, we as Kurds will not be able to make decisions. Currently, Kurdistan has to find temporary solutions for issues to stop the economic conditions deteriorating. Then in the next step we have to think of independence,” noted Hassan.
To some people like Mahmud Othman, a Kurdish MP in the Iraqi parliament, there is no indication of when issues are solved since the attempts have been unsuccessful for the last 11 years.
“The oil issues, the Peshmarga Budget and the security issues have remained as they were. No progress has been made, and some of them may well have become worse,” said Othman
As Othman sees it, the Kurds have to deal with the issues as national issues and all the Kurdish parties have to be united and engaged in continuous discussions aimed at finding solutions.
“If solutions are not found, the Kurdish officials have to let their people know why. Some of the issues can be solved in the current cabinet period, if serious attempts are made, but some other issues may remain outstanding even in the next cabinet,” Othman said.
Some others believe that the main issue between Baghdad and the Region is the constitution, which most of the Shiite and Sunni groups outside Kurdistan do not believe in. In contrast, the Kurds played a significant role in forming the constitution.
“There are several sides trying to change the constitution or to amend it. Many Shiite and Sunni groups consider the constitution to have been imposed on them,” said Moayad Tayyeb, the Kurdistan Alliance List spokesman.
Tayyeb thinks the Federal Court, the place where most of the serious issues need to be solved, is not independent and is thus incapable of solving the serious issues.
“The best thing for Kurds is to plan for independence,” concluded Tayyeb.
When the Federal Court prove unable to solve the issues, the political entities will resort to political agreements.
Tayyeb is not optimistic about permanent solutions: “Day by day, the Iraqi side puts more pressures on the Kurds, and the Kurds have to look for other mechanisms like independence, since the federal system has proved unsuccessful in Iraqi.”