Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—A political delegation from the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq will meet with the central Baghdad government “soon” in order to resolve a number of disputes between both sides, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The Kurdish delegation will include representatives from the region’s main political parties and will visit Baghdad in the near future, a source from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), who requested anonymity, said. It will be headed by Roz Nouri Shawis, Iraq’s deputy speaker of parliament, who is a Kurd.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ashwaq Al-Jaf, a Kurdish MP in the Iraqi parliament, said the meetings were necessary in order to work out a number of disagreements on “strategic issues” still ongoing between the two sides and which had not been dealt with in an agreement signed by both parties last month.
These included laying the foundations for a new oil and gas law, as well as legislation relating to the Kurdistan region’s military forces, known as Peshmerga.
Baghdad objected early last year to Erbil’s exporting oil independently of the country’s state-owned oil company SOMO, and cut off payment of the Kurdistan region’s 17 percent share of the Iraqi national budget, as well as halting payments to public sector workers in the region.
According to last month’s agreement, Erbil will now export 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) via SOMO and allow Baghdad to export 300,000 bpd from the Kirkuk field via Kurdish pipelines to Turkey’s Ceyhan port for export to global markets.
Baghdad also agreed both sides would meet again to work out a plan to transfer revenues still owed to the Kurdistan region.
Jaf called for the formation of specialized committees to oversee the payments to the Kurdish region, “in order to ground the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad on a constitutional and legal basis.”
Last month both sides agreed they would meet again in January to continue work to resolve the outstanding issues and begin the process of ratifying the agreement.
“This agreement between Erbil and Baghdad is based on the Iraqi budget for 2015. Only when this budget is ratified by parliament will we be able to say that it will be applied 100 percent,” Jaf said.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan parliament’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced on Monday it was now exporting up to an additional 150,000 bpd to the 250,000 bpd agreed with Baghdad.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Dalshad Shaaban, the vice president of the committee, said: “Before we reached the agreement with Baghdad, the Kurdistan region was exporting 350,000–400,000 bpd. Following the agreement, we are now exporting 250,000 bpd via SOMO and between 100,000–150,000 bpd independently.”
He added: “Both sides did not reach any agreement regarding what Kurdistan exports outside the ambit of this current one. Baghdad knows Kurdistan sells this oil independently because we have not received any payments from them since 2014. They understand the region is currently going through major financial difficulties due to the influx of 2 million Iraqi refugees.”
Shaaban said the region was using the money from these sales to help pay public sector workers’ wages for November and December, which have not yet been paid.