Erbil-Baghdad dispute: Committees shall solve it
Erbil, Oct. 26 (AKnews) - The Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will form three committees to solve the three most important outstanding issues between Baghdad and Erbil.
The agreement was a result of negotiations between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and a delegation of Kurdish politicians, led by Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Ahmed Salih, that arrived in Baghdad earlier this week.
Fuad Hussein, head of the Kurdistan Presidential Office, said that the new committees will deal with the budget for the Kurdish military, or Peshmarga, the oil and gas law, and article 140 of the constitution. They will report their findings to both, the Iraqi and the Kurdish government.
Iraqis and Kurds have different opinions in all three issues. The Kurds demand the integration of the Kurdish defense forces (the Peshmarga) into the Iraqi army, paid for by the Iraqi government; drafting a new hydrocarbon law; and the implementation of Article 140 into the Iraqi constitution -- which authorizes payments to Kurds who were forced from their homes under Saddam Hussein, a comprehensive census of ethnic groups and a referendum to decide if disputed areas should fall under the control of Kurdistan Regional Government.
The conflict has been going on for months. It gets heated from time to time, for example after an incident, known as "Khanaqin flag order", when Maliki ordered all Kurdish flags to be taken down from government buildings in the disputed city of Khanaqin. This led to protests in many Kurdish cities. Maliki's government later denied responsibility, saying the order was "carried out by the local government at an inappropriate time" and the dispute was sparked by "external political parties and powers".
Another incident that sparked the dispute happened over the last week, when the question of Kurdish independence was raised again. Izzat Shabandar, a leader in the ruling State of Law Coalition (SLC), had suggested that thee Kurds found an independent state and to put disputed areas under national control since "no satisfactory decision for both parties can be reached as far as the disputed areas are concerned."
Shabandar's idea was immediately rejected by the Kurdistan Blocs Coalition (KBC). "The Kurdish leaders are not thinking now of this issue and we chose to stay within a federal unified Iraq and we are very keen to implement the Constitution and respect the unity and sovereignty of Iraq," KBC spokesman Muayyid Tayyeb said.
However, Kurdish President Massoud Barzani allegedly said in an interview with al-Arabiya TV that Kurds were ready for a war for independence, if Kurds vote for secession in a referendum. "We are ready to pay the price even if it means war", Barzani was quoted.
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