Informed Source to Asharq Al-Awsat: Prospects for Baghdad-Erbil Deal

File photo, Kurdistan referendum/AFP
File photo, Kurdistan referendum/AFP
TT

Informed Source to Asharq Al-Awsat: Prospects for Baghdad-Erbil Deal

File photo, Kurdistan referendum/AFP
File photo, Kurdistan referendum/AFP

There have been signs of a possible agreement between Baghdad and Erbil to overcome the repercussions of a referendum on independence held by the Kurdistan Region last September.

An informed source from the parliamentary Shi’ite National Alliance bloc told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday that a possible agreement might be reached “in the near future” to solve the pending issues between the two sides.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said: “The two sides are about to form a seven-member committee, including five members from Baghdad and two others from Kurdistan, with a mission to review all controversial issues between the two sides.”

The source added that the committee would be tasked with delicately discussing the political and economic files and the issues of borders and airports. “We expect its mission to produce fruitful results soon to solve the crisis between Baghdad and Erbil,” he said.

The comments came amid conflicting reports concerning Erbil’s approval to hand over the management of the borders, airports and custom to Baghdad.

While a close aid to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Erbil had accepted to hand over such management to Baghdad, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) spokesperson Safeen Dizayee denied the reports.

However, he said, “The KRG is ready to hold dialogue with the Iraqi government over managing the border crossings and the airports in accordance with the mechanism set by the Iraqi Constitution.”

Dizayee said on Tuesday that his government welcomes any positive steps to launch dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad.

“[The KRG] welcomes any positive steps for a dialogue toward resolving the issues between the Kurdistan Region and the Federal Government of Iraq on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution,” Dizayee said.

The spokesperson also highlighted signs that Baghdad had "good intentions," notably through an Iraqi government delegation’s planned visit to Kurdistan and the forming of joint committees for talks on borders, airports, and dams in the Kurdistan Region.



White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
TT

White House: Qatar and Egypt Plan Talks with Hamas on Gaza Ceasefire

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that mediators for Qatar and Egypt plan to engage Hamas militants soon to see if there is a way to push ahead with a Gaza ceasefire proposal offered by US President Joe Biden.

Sullivan spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a Ukraine peace summit and was asked about diplomatic efforts to get an agreement for Hamas to release some hostages held since Oct. 7 in exchange for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks.

Sullivan said he had spoken briefly to one of the main interlocutors, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, and that they would speak again about Gaza on Sunday while both are in Switzerland for the Ukraine conference, Reuters reported.

Hamas has welcomed the ceasefire proposal, but insists any agreement must secure an end to the war, a demand Israel still rejects. Israel described Hamas's response to the new US peace proposal as total rejection.

Sullivan said that US officials have taken a close look at Hamas's response.

"We think some of the edits are not unexpected and can be managed. Some of them are inconsistent both with what President Biden laid out and what the UN Security Council endorsed. And we are having to deal with that reality," he said.

He said US officials believe there remains an avenue to an agreement and that the next step will be for Qatari and Egyptian mediators to talk to Hamas and "go through what can be worked with and what really can’t be worked with."

"We anticipate a back-and-forth between the mediators and Hamas. We’ll see where we stand at that point. We will keep consulting with the Israelis and then hopefully at some point next week we’ll be able to report to you where we think things stand and what we see as being the next step to try to bring this to closure," he said.