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Erbil Requests a UN Envoy to Organize Relations with Iraq

Erbil Requests a UN Envoy to Organize Relations with Iraq

Sunday, 22 May, 2022 - 10:15
The Kurdistan region wants a UN Envoy to Organize Relations between Erbil and Baghdad (Reuters)

The Presidency of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq announced that the Security Council approved a request submitted by Erbil to send a UN envoy to organize the relationship with Baghdad and find radical solutions for their differences.

The Presidency said in a statement that Council members expressed their support of a request by Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, asking for the appointment of an official to facilitate dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad over outstanding issues.

The statement noted that the Security Council would issue next week a draft resolution to renew the work of the UN mission and discuss the issue in a special session.

The federal government in Baghdad did not comment on the request.

Relations between the two governments soured significantly in the energy file following the decision of the Federal Supreme Court regarding the unconstitutionality of the region's oil sector.

Head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Iraqi Parliament Vian Sabri confirmed that the Security Council countries agreed to the request to send a special envoy to regulate the relationship between the two parties.

Sabri told Asharq Al-Awsat that the goal is to reach an agreement and find radical solutions to the differences between the two governments under the Iraqi constitution.

She noted that regulating the relationship between the two governments has become a necessary matter, especially since there have been outstanding differences, namely the issue of oil and natural resources.

Erbil's request comes when the political process in Iraq is going through a phase of political impasse due to the inability of the winning electoral blocs to form a new Iraqi government.

The Kurdish parties' distribution between two Shiite alliances significantly weakened their position towards Baghdad. The two parties' differences are related to the constitution, especially Article 140 on Kirkuk and the disputed areas and Article 111 on oil.

However, the differences between the two main Kurdish parties, the KDP led by Massoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) headed by Bafel Talabani, over the Presidency damaged the unity of the Kurds regarding the unresolved issues.

PUK senior member Mahmoud Khoshnaw told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Patriotic Union wants constitutional solutions, especially after the Federal Court's decision.

Khoshnaw explained that the internal dialogue, albeit under external auspices, is critical to resolving differences, some of which have lasted for decades, stressing that it has become necessary to separate political and economic issues.

On Saturday, the Iraqi Oil Ministry said that the federal government aims to establish a new oil company in the Kurdistan region, seeking to enter into new service contracts with oil firms currently operating under the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

On May 7, Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul-Jabbar said that the ministry would start implementing a February federal court ruling that declared the legal foundations of the Kurdistan region's oil and gas sector unconstitutional, Reuters reported.

Iraq then asked international oil and gas companies operating in the Kurdistan region to sign new contracts with the state-owned marketing company, SOMO, instead of the KRG.

The letters marked the first direct contact between the ministry and the oil companies operating in the Kurdistan region. The move follows years of attempts by the federal government to control the revenues of KRG, including local court rulings and threats of international arbitration.

The Ministry of Oil said it will pursue legal actions against companies that continue to operate under "unlawful production sharing contracts" and "do not engage in good faith negotiations to restructure their contracts."

Meanwhile, the UN Sec-Gen Special Representative for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, presented a comprehensive briefing on the Iraqi situation before the UN Security Council.

Plasschaert said that Iraqis continue to wait for "a political class that will roll up its sleeves to make headway on the country's long list of outstanding domestic priorities."

"A sincere, collective, and urgent will to resolve political differences must now prevail – it must prevail for the country to move forward and meet its citizens' needs."

She warned that "Iraqi political inaction comes at a huge price. Not (in the short term) for those in power, but for those desperately trying to make ends meet daily."

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