Erbil Accuses Baghdad Parliament of Violating Political Agreement

In this picture taken on April 15, 2023, people row traditional "meshhouf" boats in the Tigris river in Baghdad. (AFP)
In this picture taken on April 15, 2023, people row traditional "meshhouf" boats in the Tigris river in Baghdad. (AFP)
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Erbil Accuses Baghdad Parliament of Violating Political Agreement

In this picture taken on April 15, 2023, people row traditional "meshhouf" boats in the Tigris river in Baghdad. (AFP)
In this picture taken on April 15, 2023, people row traditional "meshhouf" boats in the Tigris river in Baghdad. (AFP)

Kurdish forces accused the Iraqi parliament of violating the political agreement reached between Baghdad and Erbil over the federal budget.

Parliament had introduced amendments over oil in the draft budget, delaying a parliamentary vote more than two months after legislators received the budget plan.

Oil has been a source of recurrent tension between Kurdistan's autonomous regional government and federal authorities in Baghdad. Kurdish leaders see the budget amendments as contradictory to an agreement concluded in April over oil exports.

Iraqi Kurdistan's Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said Saturday the changes amounted to "treason" and an affront to Iraqi Kurdish rights, while Nechirvan Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdistan president, said he was "deeply concerned" about the changes.

The federal government in mid-March sent the draft three-year budget to parliament, where changes were introduced to the original text.

The Kurdish regional government had for years earned billions of dollars in revenues exporting 475,000 barrels of oil daily to Türkiye without the Iraqi federal government's approval.

But in March the region was forced to halt its lucrative sales following international arbitration ruling in favor of Baghdad's exclusive rights over exports.

The April deal cleared the way for resuming exports, and stipulated that Baghdad's State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) would manage the oil sales.

Revenues from the sales would be paid into a bank account overseen by Baghdad, and the Kurdish autonomous region would also receive a share of the federal budget, it said.

But Iraqi deputies changed the original budget text.

It now says the Kurdish region must first deliver 400,000 barrels of oil daily to the federal authorities, along with non-oil revenues, before it can receive its federal budget allocation, according to Kurdish Iraqi economist Govand Sherwani Sherwani.

The original draft, he said, had guaranteed that Kurdistan "would receive its share of the budget without condition, as a constitutional right".

Furthermore, the changes stipulate that Kurdish oil revenues would be deposited "in an account belonging to the Iraqi Finance Ministry, at the Iraqi Central Bank", instead of an international bank account as previously agreed, Sherwani said.

In a country where political agreements are concluded after endless negotiations between political parties, the objection of the Kurds is delaying a parliamentary vote on the budget.

Iraq's oil dependent economy has traditionally been plagued by budget delays, which the government's three-year proposal aimed to avoid.



Netanyahu Says Israel Winding Down Gaza Operations. A Lebanon War Could be Next

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
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Netanyahu Says Israel Winding Down Gaza Operations. A Lebanon War Could be Next

FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the current phase of fighting against Hamas in Gaza is winding down, setting the stage for Israel to send more troops to its northern border to confront Hezbollah.
The Israeli leader said in a lengthy TV interview that while the army is close to completing its current ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, that would not mean the war against Hamas is over. But he said fewer troops would be needed in Gaza, freeing up forces to battle Hezbollah.

“We will have the possibility of transferring some of our forces north, and we will do that,” he told Israel’s Channel 14, a pro-Netanyahu TV channel, in an interview that was frequently interrupted by applause from the studio audience. “First and foremost, for defense,” he added, but also to allow tens of thousands of displaced Israelis to return home.

Netanyahu said he hoped a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be found but vowed to solve the problem “in a different way” if needed. ″We can fight on several fronts and we are prepared to do that,” he said.
He said any deal would not just be “an agreement on paper.” He said it would require Hezbollah to be far from the border, an enforcement mechanism and the return of Israelis back to their homes. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated shortly after the fighting erupted and have not been able to go home.

Hezbollah has said it will continue battling Israel until a cease-fire is reached in Gaza. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned Israel last week against launching a war, saying Hezbollah has new weapons and intelligence capabilities that could help it target more critical positions deeper inside Israel.