A delegation from the Kurdish Regional Government intends to meet in Baghdad with the Ministry of Interior for Iraq to discuss the possibility of reopening the airports in both Sulaymaniah and Erbil while simultaneously addressing the issue of closed borders. A source from within the Iraqi Ministry of Interior confirmed that the meeting would take place and would be between delegates from the Kurdish Regional Government, lead by KRG Minister of Interior Karim Sinjari, and other ministers from within the Iraqi government.
Over the past few weeks, tangible progress has been seen in rebuilding relations between the KRG and Iraqi government in the way of searching for solutions to the series of problems that distance the two governing bodies. The most recent events that strained Kurdish/Iraqi relations was the Kurdish vote for independence paired with punitive measures the central government had adopted.
Previously, several high level meetings have occurred in both Baghdad and Erbil to discuss the issue of the central government’s delays in regards to paying Kurdish government salaries. Delegations from the smaller Kurdish political parties such as Komal, Gorran, and the CDJ had separately visited Baghdad this month. Bafel Talabani, the late Jalal Talabani’s eldest son and influential member of the PUK political party, visited as well in an attempt to clear up these issues to no avail around the same time. All delegates had participated in talks with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, including other high-ranking senior officials.
On numerous occasions the representative of the Kurdish Regional Government, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, has extended a line of communication to the Iraqi government. He has assured that Kurdistan is prepared to engage in talks with Iraq in accordance with the constitution in an effort to bring closure to any issues that are on the table. Nechirvan Barzani has also made it very clear that he has the support of Kurdistan’s international allies, France and Germany, in his renewed efforts.
The closure of Kurdistan’s international airports was done in conjunction with the capturing of the city Kirkuk by Iraqi military forces working alongside Iranian-backed militias. Kirkuk is home to major oil deposits and has long been a contested territory among the Kurdish and Iraqi people. Now that Iraq has reacquired it in the wake of the Islamic State’s demise, it would not be asinine to expect that the Iraqi government will release its strangle hold on Kurdistan’s autonomy now that they are once again in control of the region’s coveted natural resources.
When the lockdown on Kurdistan’s airports took effect, many western ex-patriots and other travelers were left to find other means of departing the country. Several foreign fighters for the Syrian Kurdish organization, the YPG, had to exfiltrate via overland travel to Baghdad where they would later fly out of the international airport there. The lockdown had also made it increasingly difficult to enter or leave Kurdistan via border crossings because of the instituted requirement for Iraqi visas rather than “upon arrival” Kurdish visa.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia.