Haider al-Abadi, the Prime Minister for Iraq, has ordered the Kurdish Regional Government to allow the central Iraqi government to take control of Kurdistan’s airports on a federal level. This will be the first step in re-opening Kurdistan’s airports since their closure during the Kurdish independence referendum. Abadi stated, “Based on constitutional jurisprudence, the reopening of the Erbil and Sulaimani airports for international flights will occur,” via social media on Wednesday.

Representative for the United Nations in Iraq, Jan Kubis stated, “This is a significant positive step that is certain to boost the atmosphere of partnership cooperation between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. This is a significant positive step that is certain to boost the atmosphere of partnership cooperation between the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government.” According to Abadi the airports would be opened, “After the local authority in the Kurdistan Region heeds the return of federal authority in the two respective airports.”

The Prime Minister’s office presented “a Directorate for Special Protection” to be applied to Kurdistan’s airports. If the KRG heeds the decree, which appears to be the plan, international flights to Kurdistan will continue in “not more than one week from its date.” The decree requires a federal take over of the airports and they would be, “Under the command and control of the Federal Ministry of Interior, and the Minister of Interior,” and they, “shall abide by the uniform specified for the security forces of the Ministry of Interior.” Th biometric scanning systems found at the Kurdish airport customs, “Are to be linked to the main system in Baghdad, as is the case in other Iraqi ports.” The Iraqi Ministry of Interior will handle, “Passports and nationality departments and their staff.” A High Committee will be formed and, “It shall include representatives of all concerned authorities in the Center and the Region and shall report to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces or whom he authorizes.”

Prime Minister Abadi met with KRG Interior Minister Karim Sinjari to confirm the terms shortly after the announcement was made. According to Abadi, “The era of exploitation has gone since the collapse of the Baathist regime. I would love to hear tomorrow that the airports were opened.”

Nechirvan Barzani, Kurdistan’s acting Peshmerga minister, assured Kurdish citizens that, “We commend the reopening of the airports, this means that you are implementing the constitution. The re-opening of the airports is step in the right direction towards resolving impending issues between the Region and Baghdad. We hope for such meetings to continue between both sides.” Barzani continued to support the decision by publicly stating, “As the KRG, we are welcoming important step in the right direction to resolve other problems within the framework of the Iraqi constitution. I would like to thank Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and all the other sides in the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region to make it happen.” He added that the decision, “Was the result of the many official meetings between Abadi, me, and both sides’ delegations.”

When question about the Kurdish airports and their administration, specifically who would be running them, Barzani commented that, “This is a technical matter and needs details. As per the constitution, it is clear how it should be. We have reached an agreement with them about the airports based on the constitution. If both sides have serious wills, the problems between both sides could be resolved on the basis of the constitution.” He added that, “The people of Kurdistan and the government are both very concerned about the budget. We hope there is an opportunity for a revision to the law and for the demands of the Kurdistan Region is taken into account. If the Kurdistan Region is part of Iraq, then it should not be dealt with in this way.”

Director general of the Sulaimani International Airport, Tahir Abdullah, released the statement that, “Today March 13, 2018, in meetings with Mr. Dr. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the Kurdistan teams were told that on Thursday, international flights will resume in the Erbil and Sulaimani international airports. We hope that happiness and bliss will return to the Kurdistan Region with the restart of the flights.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

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