KRG PM says Erbil won't hand over Kurdistan Region's oil production to Baghdad

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said on Wednesday, February 10, that his government is not ready to hand over control over the Kurdistan Region’s oil production to the federal government, saying that demand was “unconstitutional.”

During a press conference following a meeting of the KRG Council of Ministers, Barzani said that the Kurdistan Region’s relationship with Baghdad “must be based on rights and duties.”

“The KRG's relationship with the federal government is through the government, not state companies. SOMO does not represent the new Iraqi federal state and Kurdistan is not represented in the organization,” he said later in a tweet, referring to Iraq’s oil marketer.

Speaking to the ongoing dispute over the budget, Barzani said that his cabinet is ready to hand over 250,000 barrels of oil per day and half of the Region’s non-oil income or their cash equivalents to the federal government in return for securing the “Region’s financial entitlement.”

The terms of the current draft 2021 Federal Budget Law largely mirror the 2019 version of the law, which the KRG never fully implemented by refusing to send any oil to SOMO.

According to NRT he also threw his support behind the purported agreement reached by his deputy, Qubad Talabani, during talks in December. In the weeks after Talabani returned from the Iraqi capital, members of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) appeared to distance themselves from the notion that there had been an agreement.

In that vein, the KRG prime minister also said that his government’s disagreements with Baghdad “go far beyond the budget."

“It includes disputes over land too. We cannot be expected to fulfill duties alone; it should also cover our rights to investment, sovereign expenses, and more,” he tweeted.

During his press conference, Barzani said that his cabinet is working to increase tax revenues.

“The number of companies now registered with the [KRG’s] Large Tax Office has increased from 240 to over 600 companies” since he took office in July 2019, he said.

He also addressed the agreement between Baghdad and Erbil on the normalization of the security and humanitarian situation in Sinjar district, saying that it has not been implemented because “forces that were supposed to withdraw remain in the area.”

The KRG and the KDP have called for the withdrawal of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We remain committed and call for the full implementation of the agreement.”

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