Iraqi president says Baghdad-Erbil relations ‘unhealthy now’

Iraqi President Barham Salih during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq on September 02, 2020. (Anadolu Agency)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi President Barham Salih said relations between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are “unhealthy now”, as disputes continue due to issues related to oil and budget.

Salih said in an interview with Sky News Arabic released on Wednesday that relations between Baghdad and Erbil should be on the basis of Iraqi constitution.

“The constitution may have divergent visions, meaning interpretation and so forth, but in the end, we have to settle our matter. This relationship is unhealthy now,” Salih said.

“The Kurds are an essential component of this society, who have suffered from displacement, absenteeism, and the war of annihilation,” Salih added.

Salih added that national dialogue needed to resolve the issues between Baghdad and Erbil.

“We have essential allies in the Iraqi system and in Iraqi society who see the necessity of recognizing Kurdish rights, but there are also others who see centralization in governance and do not accept the state of federalism and the state of government … the issue cannot continue, neither Kurds nor Arabs are satisfied.”

Relations between Erbil and Baghdad deteriorated after the federal government led by former Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi halted sending salaries to the Kurdistan Region’s public sectors, accusing the KRG of not handing over its oil to Baghdad.

With Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi taking office in May 2020, Erbil and Baghdad have begun talks to resolve their outstanding issues, including those related to oil and budget.

But both sides have yet to reach a final agreement.

“… Despite all these crises we have gone through, I am optimistic that we are able to overcome these problems,’ the Iraqi president said.

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