Iraq’s Sadr calls on Baghdad and Erbil to reach deal on suspending issues

File – Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr speaks during a media conference with Iraqi Defense Minister Arfan al-Hayali and Iraq’s Interior Minister Qasim al-Araji (not pictured) in Najaf, Iraq (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Saturday called on the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to reach an agreement on their suspending issues, including oil production.

Sadr, who is the leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, issued a 16-point solution to end crises in the country.

The Iraqi leader said in a tweet that the federal government and the KRG should reach an agreement on their outstanding financial issues, including the Kurdistan Region’s oil production.

Erbil and Baghdad have yet to resolve their suspending issues despite a series of meetings between Kurdish and Iraqi officials this year.

In another point, Sadr said salaries of high-ranking officials should be reorganized and reduced in an attempt to tackle the issue of deficit in the federal budget and payment of public servants.

Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer of crude, is facing an economic crisis over falling of oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

A large portion of Iraq’s budget relies exclusively on oil exports while the oil prices have plummeted amid the global recession due to the pandemic.

The World Bank estimates Iraq’s economy will shrink 9.7% in 2020 on back of lower oil prices and coronavirus, compared to 4.4% growth in 2019.

Top officials in Kadhimi’s government have repeatedly said with oil prices not expected to rebound in the near-term, only reforms would see Iraq avoid an economic catastrophe.

“Oil is the country’s great wealth. It should be preserved and kept away from corrupt people,” Sadr said. “The oil revenues should be returned to the state.”

Sadr also called on the federal government to disclose corrupt people who had wasted the country’s wealth for their own and political parties’ interests.

He also called for expelling “invaders” in Iraq, which he said caused Iraq to lose billions of dollars.

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