President Nechirvan Barzani: a beacon of diplomacy and peace in Kurdistan's political landscape

President Nechirvan Barzani: a beacon of diplomacy and peace in Kurdistan's political landscape

Shafaq News/ As the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, embarks on a landmark visit to Baghdad, the Region holds its breath in anticipation of significant diplomatic strides. His mission is clear: bridging divides, fostering cooperation, and charting a course toward lasting peace.

President Barzani's pivotal role in shaping the future of Kurdistan-Iraq relations and his agenda for constructive dialogue were reflected in this visit.

President Barzani's Diplomatic Mastery

With his exceptional diplomatic skills, President Nechirvan Barzani plays a pivotal role in promoting peace, stability, and conflict in Iraq. His strategic interventions have been instrumental in easing tensions and fostering dialogue among various political factions within the Kurdistan Region.

President Barzani's leadership, which emphasizes inclusivity and collaboration, seeks common ground and consensus-building to effectively address the Region's challenges. His unwavering commitment to dialogue and negotiation, as reflected in his engagements with Iraqi leaders, including in his recent visit to Baghdad, instills a sense of hope in the audience about the future of the region.

President Barzani's role as a mediator and facilitator of reconciliation efforts within the Kurdish political landscape is a testament to his leadership. His ability to bridge divides, a skill honed through years of experience, has earned him respect and recognition as a unifying figure among Kurdish parties, contributing significantly to the Region's stability.

President Barzani's role extends beyond internal Kurdish politics to include contributions to resolving issues with the federal government of Iraq by following diplomatic understanding and strategic approach in addressing longstanding disputes and fostering constructive dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad.

Barzani's engagement with Iraqi leaders, including the Prime Minister and President, reflects a commitment to finding mutually beneficial solutions to issues ranging from fiscal matters to security cooperation. His advocacy for greater autonomy and recognition of Kurdish rights within the framework of Iraq's federal system has been a cornerstone of his diplomatic efforts.

One notable achievement of Barzani's leadership is the successful negotiation of agreements on key issues such as oil revenue sharing and budget allocations. These agreements have helped stabilize relations between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government, paving the way for enhanced cooperation and mutual trust.

President Barzani's Journey in Baghdad

President Nechirvan Barzani arrived in Baghdad on Saturday to discuss various pressing topics with Iraqi leaders and officials, including the issues between Erbil and Baghdad and Iraq's political landscape and the Kurdistan Region.

During his visit, the President engaged in meetings with Iraq's President Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, US Ambassador to Iraq Alina L. Romanowski, and French Ambassador to Iraq Patrick Durel.

Additionally, he participated in both the Coordination Framework meeting of the Shia parties and the round meeting of the State Administration Coalition.

President Barzani's Topics of Discussions

President Nechirvan Barzani discussed the issues between Erbil and Baghdad, the political landscape in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, and other pressing topics with Iraqi top officials.

The main topics regarding Iraqi-Kurdish relations that were discussed are the oil, Kurdish employees' salaries, and the Region's elections. These issues were a source of disagreement and frequently caused political conflict between the two sides.

In all his meetings, President Barzani stressed the significance of resolving issues between Erbil and Baghdad to uphold peace and political stability and the importance of cooperation and coordination among Iraq's political parties.

President Barzani's Successes Lauded in Baghdad

The Kurdish President was welcomed warmly in Baghdad, and his pivotal role in finding radical solutions to the differences was appreciated.

Following their meeting in Baghdad, President Nechirvan Barzani and Iraq's Prime Minister held a press conference in which Al-Sudani deemed the Kurdish President a "brother."

"Today, I am honored to meet with our dear brother, the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani… this visit holds great importance. He is always ready to address many issues concerning citizens, from welfare and services to small technical and administrative problems arising between the Region and the federal institutions and ministries."

"I would like to thank the honorable Prime Minister for the warm welcome he gave us today. I thank the Prime Minister for all his efforts to resolve the issues between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad and all the issues in Iraq in general." Barzani responded.

In turn, the Iraqi President commended President Nechirvan Barzani's "continuous efforts to bridge the gap between the parties and find solutions."

During the meeting with the Coordination Forces leaders, they also "greatly appreciated President Nechirvan Barzani's participation." affirming "their mutual desire to reach an understanding and solve issues, underscoring the importance of continued communication."

In turn, both French and American Ambassadors highlighted the role of the President in conducting fruitful dialogues.

Oil Challenges

"The topic of oil was discussed and that there are ongoing challenges. However, there have been positive agreements made in principle, and we are optimistic that the oil issue will be resolved promptly." President Barzani said in a readout after meeting Al-Sudani.

Notably, the Iraqi Federal Court deemed the KRI's independent oil sales unlawful, while the Iraqi parliament imposed stricter limits on payments to the four Kurdish governorates. These actions have weakened the KRI's financial stability.

Furthermore, a ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce's Court of Arbitration in Paris compelled Turkiye to pay Iraq approximately $1.5 billion in a longstanding dispute over crude oil exports from the KRI. This ruling led Turkiye to halt oil flow to Ceyhan Port, prompting the Kurds to broker a deal with Baghdad to sell oil through the federal government. This arrangement, which controls nearly 80 percent of the KRI's budget, limits Kurdish autonomy significantly and leads to further complications in paying the employees' salaries.

Addressing Salaries Crisis

The Kurdish government has faced significant challenges in meeting the timely and complete payment of salaries to its civil servants for the past decade. This financial strain intensified following the suspension of the KRG's oil exports to international markets a year ago.

As a result, the KRG has been heavily reliant on local income sources and its allocated share from the federal budget, which has been a subject of controversy. Despite efforts to manage its fiscal situation, the KRG has consistently struggled to meet its salary obligations.

The Federal Supreme Court of Iraq's decision worsened the situation by ordering the "localization" of salaries for all Kurdistan Region employees in federal banks. This decision has resulted in the halt of salary disbursements, leading to numerous strikes across various sectors.

"One of the most significant issues for our people in the Kurdistan Region is that of paying the salaries of civil and security employees, the families of martyrs, and for social welfare." PM Al-Sudani said after meeting President Barzani.

"On this basis, with the official lists of employees and all ministries and categories that have been audited by both the Regional and Federal Financial Supervision Bureaux, we initiated the payment of salaries. The lists were then sent to the Ministry of Finance to start the salary payments, which was conducted and the entire salaries for both February and March were paid." he added

"We certainly insist on continuing the payments, to ensure that there is no conflict with the Federal Court's ruling and to help ensure citizens' livelihoods."

In turn, President Barzani said, "We are of course glad that the salaries of the Kurdistan Region employees will be paid within the framework of the agreement reached between Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Prime Minister Al-Sudani, and we hope this will continue."

Days before the President's visit to Baghdad, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi federal government announced a breakthrough by reaching an agreement on a longstanding dispute regarding public sector salaries in the Kurdistan Region.

"We have arrived at a satisfactory solution for allocating salaries to employees and retirees in the Kurdistan Region," PM Masrour Barzani stated

President Barzani emphasized that the understanding and agreement reached between Erbil and Baghdad during his visit on the salary issue will positively impact the development of relations between the two sides.

Kurdistan's Elections

Last February, Iraq's Supreme Court issued rulings related to the Kurdistan Region's election law.

The court declared that a specific article concerning the minority quota in KRG's provincial election law was deemed "unconstitutional." This article mandates 11 quota seats in the Regional parliament for ethnic and religious minorities.

Furthermore, the verdict stated that Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission will take over from KRG's electoral commission to supervise parliamentary elections, which are anticipated to occur next June.

The decision also divided Kurdistan into four constituencies, Al-Sulaymaniyah, Erbil, Duhok, and Halabja, instead of the single-constituency system in previous elections.

These actions have stirred controversy among Kurdish parties, notably the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the largest in the Kurdistan Region. KDP announced a boycott of the elections, joined by parties representing minority groups.

During his current visit, the Kurdish President clarified, "Regarding the elections, it is my duty as the President of the Kurdistan Region to determine the date and we have set the date. We are optimistic and hopeful that all political parties will reach a common understanding and agree that holding elections is crucial."

In an interview with Shafaq News Agency on Saturday, Dilshad Shihab, the Kurdish Presidency spokesperson, revealed, "While federal institutions play a role in supporting the electoral commission and providing the necessary infrastructure, the conduct and timing of the elections are internal affairs. Discussions about them do not involve external parties, as everyone supports the idea of holding elections. It's essential to discuss these matters among Kurdish political entities and official institutions in the Region to find an appropriate solution."

He added, "The approach for the Kurdish Presidency is to reach an appropriate format with the parties. So far, every step taken by the Presidency regarding the elections has been through consultation with all parties, and this approach will continue in the future."

Now, with the positive outcomes described from the Baghdad visit, bolstered by the Kurdistan Democratic Party's reliance on the region's President to address the situation, observers anticipate heightened communications from Nechirvan Barzani to embrace its legislative and governmental institutions and stressing the necessity of unity among the parties to confront the current circumstances.

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