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Kurdistan

Kurdistan Government Blasts Baghdad Over Budget Freeze

By RUDAW 3/3/2014
The KRG urges Baghdad not to use the budget as a tool in the oil row. Photo: Rudaw
The KRG urges Baghdad not to use the budget as a tool in the oil row. Photo: Rudaw

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government has denounced Iraq’s central government for freezing the Kurdish enclave’s share of the national budget over an oil dispute, while the KRG deputy prime minister warned that the “economic siege” could lead to Iraq’s disintegration.

KRG spokesman Safeen Dizayee said in a statement that Erbil did not expect Baghdad to take out its wrath over the oil export deal to Turkey by cutting off the salaries of government workers in Kurdistan.

"What was not expected was (Iraqi) Prime Minister Nuri Maliki taking such measures and mixing political files with the salaries of Kurdistan employees and the lives of its citizens while talks continue between the two sides," Dizayee said.

He said that Kurdish authorities were expecting officials in Baghdad to be more responsible in addressing outstanding problems, not deepening them by cutting the salaries of public servants in Kurdistan.

Meanwhile, the KRG's Deputy Prime Minister Emad Ahmed accused Maliki of “authoritarian” rule and warned that his actions could lead to the break-up of the country.

 "We believe such a step will greatly harm the territorial integrity of Iraq and its survival," Ahmed told the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's newspaper, Kurdistani Nwe. "It’s not possible to rule the country in such an authoritarian way and violate the constitution and political values for political gains," he was quoted as saying.

Ahmed said that Kurdistan's budget is a constitutional entitlement and cannot be used to sort out political disputes.

Iraq’s Shiite-led government is locked in a serious quarrel with the Kurdistan Region. Baghdad insists that oil revenues from oil exports that Erbil wants to begin to Turkey through a new pipeline should be handled by its State Oil Marketing Organization; the Kurds want to handle export and revenues, with SOMO as an observer. 

In order to put pressure on the Kurds, Maliki and his close advisors have cut the KRG from the national budget. Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has called that tantamount to “a declaration of war.”

In his latest comments about the issue, Maliki said that budget payments had simply been delayed, explaining that one of the reasons was over the amount of oil -- 400,000 barrels – that Kurdistan was supposed to export daily. He said that Erbil-Baghdad differences had been “exaggerated.”

Baghdad alleges that the budget has been halted because the KRG’s failure to honor the exports had led to a budget deficit, a claim rejected by Erbil.

In the KRG statement, Dizayee reaffirmed Erbil’s commitment to the constitution and dialogue to settle the differences with the federal government.  He urged Baghdad not to use the budget as a political tool to address political differences.

"What can be seen vividly is that the prime minister has discriminated and has paid the salaries of the rest of Iraq, with the exception of Kurdistan, and has imposed a financial blockade on the people of Kurdistan," the statement said.

It reminded Iraqi officials that Kurdistan is “the safest part of Iraq,” and that the enclave has opened its doors to refugees from other parts of the violence-torn country, regardless of whether they were Arabs, Shiites or Christians.

"We have embraced them (refugees) and provided them with shelter and service without sectarian or religious discriminations,” Dizayee said.

"We must recognize the fact that deepening the differences will have repercussions and a negative impact on the success of the elections and the democratic process in the country," the statement said, referring to Iraq’s legislative elections, due in April.

Dizayee reiterated that no oil had been sold yet through a new pipeline, though exports could have started weeks ago. “The federal government knows very well that not even one barrel of oil has been sold through the pipeline between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey."

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Havalo Lolawo | 3/3/2014
Simple, cut the water suplly to South, stop the oil export in Kirkuk, close the borders and don't let any Arab in the North. Problem solved but then again, our Politicians don't have the backbone to do that. Come on KRG, how long are you going to let these clowns play about with you guys...
Bakir Lashkari
Bakir Lashkari | 3/3/2014
The new Kurdish Government could be established and they all can make with clear voice and common fist to the Iraqi Shiites Al Maliki Government. Next week, next round!
Muraz Adzhoev | 3/3/2014
Once more. The state budget based on the state monopoly in the field of oil and gas industry and export are the main political tools of the governing dictatorship in Iraq. The Prime minister of the arab muslim state of Iraq, regardless of who exactly and personally occupies this top position in the country, will be always with chronic nationalistic mentality and dictatorship political ideology in relation to KAR. The results of relations between Baghdad and Arbil during the period from 2003 to 2013 are sufficient enough to prove the truth. The Iraqi government has not been legitimate because the constant violation of the Constitution of the federal democratic decentralized state and political agreements with KAR on all main issues. Yes, "We must recognize the fact" and declare independence of South Kurdistan from pseudo Iraqi state. The sovereign South Kurdistan is to be the state of secular and democratic republic of the multinational and multicultural society.
Kurd4Life | 3/3/2014
@Havalo Lolawo, I agree with you %110, you play fire with fire, if kar kure kar (Maliki) treats us like this and uses Kurdish people's salary to bargain then we should cut the water and stop exports from Kirkuk. But we must realize, this shows that Kurdistan cannot survive without the budget from central government (CG) which brings me to my next question. We have been an autonomous since 1991 and I remember that day pretty clearly, we have smuggled oil, collected duty fees, etc... but yet, our bank is empty, where has this money disappear to? We always brag about how well we are doing, we have good economy but yet we cannot survive without the CG budget for more than a month. This is sad, very very sad. We also have to blame our government (PUK, KDP, Goran, etc...) because they as corrupt as Maliki. Kurdish people are told they are sufficient and can survive without CG but not true and this years proves that. Barzani and Talabni's family are set, their bank ACCOUNTS (all over Europe) are full of money, I am 99% sure they have billions of dollars but why aren't they paying the Kurdish people until they settle with CG. At the end of the day, this isn't about Arabs, Kurdish, Turkmen, etc.. it is about getting the big slice of the pie. PUK, KDP, Goran, SLC, Dawa Party, etc.. don't care, they only care about their bank account. whoever reads this thinks I am against our own people (Kurdish People) but I am not, don't feel bad for PUK/KDP because they suffered in the past to fight for Kurdish people, feel bad for everyone who fought for Kurdish people, we all suffered. What gives them right to take control over the government and keep stealing money? Its time for them to step aside and let educated personnel to run the region because it is clear that these family run politicians only care for themselves. Long Live Kurdistan, Long Live Kurdish People!!!
Yousif garmiani | 3/3/2014
Water siege is the most important weapon in this war.
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