Kurdish Officials Furious After Massive Iraqi Budget Cuts

Haj Omran border crossing between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan

Haj Omran border crossing between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan

The budget is based on projected oil exports of 3.8 million barrels per day (bpd) - including 250,000 bpd produced in the autonomous Kurdish region - at a price of $46 per barrel, a parliamentary statement said.

According to sources in Kurdistan who spoke to Reuters, the semi-autonomous region has lost nearly US$3 billion in oil revenues since the Iraqi federal government seized the oilfields in Kirkuk.

The Kurds boycotted the parliament session in protest against budget cuts against the semi-autonomous region.

"The stance from the political process is not in our hands, but in the hands of the Kurdish political leaderships", he remarked.

It did not specify a percentage to be allocated to the KRG, instead stipulating it would receive funds proportional to its share of the population.

The Kurds, however, are not willing to accept anything less than a 17-percent share, saying there has not been a census in Iraq since 1987.

The KRG disputes that estimation.

Last week, the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil agreed to a tentative deal to restart full oil flows from Kurdistan, but little details about the deal were announced.

After Kurdistan's independence referendum opposed by Baghdad, Iraqi federal forces seized in October the oil fields around Kirkuk, which had been under Kurdish control since 2014.

"Except for the Kurds, Iraq's other main groups [i.e., the Sunnis and Shias] have reached an agreement", he said.

The unconstitutional poll prompted Baghdad to impose a raft of punitive sanctions on the KRG, including a ban on global flights into and out of the Kurdish region.

Kurdish MPs have now warned they could boycott the upcoming general elections in May. The areas include Iraq's second city Mosul.

Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabbouri stressed however during a press conference after the vote that the "demands of the Kurdish region have been included in the budget".

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated Iraqis over the passing of the budget on Saturday and said it was the result of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches. "The budget addressed Kurdish concerns and the government approved the payments of Kurdish civil servants and Peshmerga's (Kurdish militia fighters) salaries as well as welfare entitlements".

"Erbil offered a quick-fix solution and has written to Baghdad but has yet to hear a final answer", one of the sources told Reuters.

Latest News