ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Baghdad’s international flight ban is unconstitutional and a politically-motivated decision against the people of the Kurdistan Region, said a Kurdish official on Thursday.
The head of the Kurdistan Region’s Department of Foreign Relations (DFR), Falah Mustafa, in the presence of the Transport Minister, Mawlud Bawamurad, and the Erbil International Airport Director – General, Talar Fayeq, met with foreign consuls and representatives in Erbil.
The purpose of the meeting was to update the foreign diplomats and the international community regarding the flight ban over the Kurdistan Region’s airspace imposed by Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s reaction, according to DFR’s press office.
In the meeting, Mustafa highlighted the need for dialogue to peacefully resolve issues between the KRG and the Federal Government of Iraq.
Bawamurad explained the decision to shut down the Kurdistan Region’s airports was an illegal and politically-motivated decision made against the people of the Kurdistan Region.
Baghdad’s decision came in the aftermath of the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region, in retaliation against the vote.
He mentioned that the KRG has sent several official messages to the Baghdad, including to Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, to address the issue peacefully, but have received no response from them yet.
During the meeting, Fayeq noted that the flight ban was expected to continue until the end of the year, stating the extended period would have a substantial negative impact on the people of the Kurdistan Region, notably students who study abroad, patients and wounded Peshmerga receiving treatment out of country.
She mentioned the blockade had already affected humanitarian aid sent to the 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in the Kurdistan Region.
Fayeq stated that the decision goes against the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, but that the KRG has yet to take any severe action toward Baghdad.
The relationship between Erbil and Baghdad has deteriorated following the Kurdistan Region’s referendum, as Iraqi officials labeled the move "unconstitutional and illegal."
Baghdad has already called on the Kurdistan Region officials to hand over control of the airports and border crossings to the Federal Government, but the KRG has so far rejected to do so.
Editing by G.H.Renaud