Kurdistan-Baghdad relations.. The Washington Institute: 4 “fateful” files awaiting leaving the “bureaucracy” and developing solutions

Kurdistan-Baghdad relations.. The Washington Institute: 4 “fateful” files awaiting leaving the “bureaucracy” and developing solutions

2024-03-26 05:56

Kurdistan-Baghdad relations.. The Washington Institute - 4 fateful files awaiting leaving the bureaucracy and developing solutionsShafaq News/ The Washington Institute monitored that the recent decisions of the Iraqi Federal Court regarding the localization of the salaries of Kurdistan Region employees in federal banks, the abolition of quota seats, and the manner in which the Kurdistan Region will be divided into at least four electoral regions. All of these decisions have sparked controversy again about The nature of the relations between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil, and created the need for urgent and decisive regulation of the joints of these relations, which have witnessed many and varied tensions between Baghdad and Erbil since the adoption of the Iraqi constitution in 2005.

The American Institute stated in a report published on its website and viewed by Shafaq News Agency: Until now, despite the challenge to the legitimacy of this court and its decisions, it has based its aforementioned decisions on the constitutional paragraphs that define the court’s powers, which are (second, fourth, and fifth) of Article 93 of the Iraqi Constitution, in addition to Article 94, which determined the decisions of the Federal Court as final and binding on the authorities. all.

By studying the areas of conflict between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, it becomes clear that there is a widening dispute between Baghdad and Erbil. By finding stable solutions in coordination with both parties, relations can be repaired and the state of stalemate and hostility that stands in the way of cooperation between the two parties can be put to an end.

Legislation of the oil and gas law was delayed

This law regulates the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil in the context of extracting oil and gas in the Kurdistan Region, marketing it, and investing in it. Each party views oil and gas revenues as a vital economic resource, as Baghdad insists that the National Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) undertake the marketing of Kurdistan’s oil, while it objects. Erbil is based on this, and some claim that the constitution mentioned the term (current oil fields, i.e. existing in 2005), while the fields of Kurdistan appeared after 2005, and therefore they are not included in what was mentioned in the Iraqi constitution. Moreover, disputes over oil and gas revenues constitute only one aspect of the crisis, as there is also a dispute over the management of oil fields in Kurdistan (exploration, extraction, and marketing), even though Article 112 of the Constitution specifies a joint responsibility between the federal government and the regional government for oil investment. In the regions of the region, and distributing revenues to all governorates of Iraq, in proportion to the population distribution therein.

The federal government in Baghdad is seeking a real and effective presence in the Kurdistan oil fields to determine its real production and marketing plans, and this is what the regional government in Erbil rejects on the grounds that it infringes on its rights guaranteed by the constitution. Accordingly, the need to seek the opinion of an international technical committee specialized in energy affairs, for the purpose of developing mechanisms for exploring and extracting oil and gas and marketing them jointly between Baghdad and Erbil, seems very urgent as a compromise and professional solution that satisfies all parties, and in light of the committee’s recommendations, the oil and gas law in Iraq is formulated.

The customs law legislation was delayed

This law regulates customs operations and their resources between Baghdad and Erbil at the border crossings and airports located in the Kurdistan Region, as Article 114 of the Constitution specifies the shared powers between the federal government and the regional government in managing Kurdistan customs, and although Erbil agreed to hand over half of customs imports to Baghdad in 2020, However, the problem is still continuing its disputes due to the lack of trust between the two parties. The solution lies in forming an Iraqi committee, including international experts, to study the customs systems in the federal countries and extract the most appropriate one for regulating customs between the federal government and the region. Then, an Iraqi judicial committee will legislate the customs law based on decisions. The aforementioned committee.

Localization of salaries of Kurdistan Region employees

The issue of paying the salaries of public sector employees in the Kurdistan Region constituted an ongoing point of contention between the two sides in the past, as the federal government used to provide loans to the Kurdistan Regional Government and depend on it to distribute salaries to state employees. In the same context, Baghdad feels that there are fake employees receiving salaries from the federal government, so it demands that the salaries of the region’s employees be localized to reveal the real number of employees. As a result, many civil servants in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, who have not received their salaries for several months, praised the decisions of the Federal Court, while the regional government strongly rejected those decisions, considering them a violation of its constitutional rights and an abuse of federal authority. One possible option to address this issue is to open a federal bank in Erbil in which all the salaries of the region’s employees are deposited. The bank then deducts the salaries into the employees’ accounts after receiving notifications of continuing work from their institutions.

The problem of disputed areas

The disputed areas constitute a strip of land that extends from the Iraqi-Syrian border to the Iraqi-Iranian border. The length of this strip reaches 1,000 kilometers and its area is 37 thousand square kilometers. This region also includes important oil and gas resources, specifically in Kirkuk Governorate. This reinforces the differences between Baghdad and Erbil in the attempt to impose control over this governorate, as the Kurds dream of annexing it to their region to be a source of economic support for the region, while many leaders in Baghdad stress that Kirkuk should be part of the geography of Iraq to deprive the Kurds of domination over it. To ensure the unity of Iraq.

Although Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution affirmed the responsibility placed on the executive authority “to take the necessary steps to complete the implementation of the requirements of Article 58 of the Iraqi State Administration Law for the Transitional Period in all its paragraphs,” that authority must “completely accomplish the tasks of normalization and statistics, and end with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed areas, to determine the will of its citizens within a maximum period of December 31, 2007.” However, this has not yet been done due to complex political and security considerations.

The dispute over the oil-rich Kirkuk Governorate and other disputed areas has not only caused a rift at the national level, but has also caused disagreements between the two main parties in the Kurdistan Region: the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which seek to control Kirkuk because of its resources and cultural importance. Hence, this issue should be addressed by carefully studying the disputed areas. One of the likely solutions is to divide the disputed areas into 8 regions in which separate statistics and referendums will be conducted, and for each region to decide its geographical and administrative affiliation by a majority of its people, provided that this is done under the supervision of the United Nations and international organizations due to the geopolitical complexities of this file.

Political differences between the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, and the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party in the Erbil and Dohuk Governorates: due to the exaggerated political competition between the two parties for local and federal positions, and what is known as the repercussions of the Kirkuk crisis in 2017, in addition to signs of mistrust in the management of the ports. The border, which is located in the geographical area of ​​both parties, as well as the failure to unify the Kurdish (Peshmerga) forces, and the position on the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party, are all factors that negatively affect the negotiating position of the region with the federal government in Baghdad, and in a way that may push the latter to deal unilaterally with The two parties, and dividing the region’s share of the financial budget between the two parties.

Therefore, the regional government must be aware that resolving the differences with Baghdad begins with resolving the differences with Sulaymaniyah first, because Baghdad wants to rely on a unified Kurdish position to decide on controversial issues with the regional government. Sulaymaniyah must also realize that weakening the Kurdistan Regional Government will lead to dire consequences for the region. The entire region.

The bright side is that solutions to these issues are possible as long as there is a focus on drawing the features of a common Kurdish vision that is keen on the region’s prosperity, and building a healthy relationship with Baghdad within a federal Iraq, and a joint Iraqi expert committee with members of the international coalition to fight ISIS, and members of both parties (the Party The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and members of other Kurdish parties, work to resolve all these internal differences that have caused division between them at the present time.

Entrenched bureaucratic impediments in the federal government

The bureaucratic obstacles that permeate the federal government increase the complexity of dealing with the issues of the Kurdistan Region. There are several federal bodies that decide the nature of the relationship with Erbil, namely the Ministry of Oil, the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the Ministry of Defense, and the Prime Minister, which requires the government of Mr. Sudanese to form a specialized federal body to manage the affairs of the regions. Completely in accordance with what was drawn up by the Iraqi Constitution, and in a way that ensures that federal ministries are not subject to political or personal considerations in dealing with the region’s issues. The process of organizing relations between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government within a constitutional framework requires a long time. However, identifying the most important points in the negotiations – as well as the internal obstacles that stand in the way of these negotiations – constitutes an essential step in understanding the future of relations between Baghdad and Erbil. However, the common concessions between all parties, flexibility in negotiations, accepting the opinions of professional international technical committees on controversial issues, Washington’s role in bringing viewpoints closer together, and the role of international organizations in providing technical and technical support and advice to Baghdad and Erbil, are all considered accelerators for the nation’s partners in building a prosperous, federal Iraq. . These steps therefore require political will and recognition that resolving these issues – despite the compromises they require – is an urgent necessity. Otherwise, failure to address these files, as well as the extent to which Erbil and Baghdad are able to resolve their internal issues, will have dire consequences for everyone.