ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – During his two-day trip of meetings with leaders from across the spectrum of Iraqi politics, President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and former President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani has been asked to open a special office in Baghdad, said a Minister on Friday.
After a year of raised tensions between Erbil and Baghdad, Barzani visited the Iraqi capital on Thursday to discuss Erbil – Baghdad disputes and express support for the newly formed federal government headed by Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
It was the first such visit since the Barzani played a central role in the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum held last year in the region and disputed territories.
On Thursday, after landing in Baghdad mid-day, the Kurdish leader met with Abdul-Mahdi, Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, head of al-Fatih (Conquest) coalition Hadi al-Amiri, former national security adviser Falih al-Fayyadh, and head of the State of Law Coalition and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
On Friday, he then met with leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front Arshad al-Salihi, former Prime Minister and leader of Nasr (Victory) coalition Haider al-Abadi, Sunni leader Salih Mutlak, and head of al-Hikma (Wisdom) movement Ammar al-Hakim.
He also flew to the holy city of Najaf to meet with Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the Sairoon coalition, the top vote-getter in May's national election.
At the request of at least some of the Iraqi leaders he met with, Barzani is planning to open a special office in Baghdad in the near future with the purpose of strengthening ties with different parties in Iraq’s capital.
“They have asked [Barzani] to open his office in Baghdad and visit Iraq’s capital often,” Bangin Rekani, the Kurdish Minister of Housing and Reconstruction in the federal government, told Kurdistan 24 on Friday.
When was asked for a timeline on the establishment of the office, he replied, “We will work on it, and make it ready.”
Although Barzani has held no governmental post since his term as the president of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region ended on Nov. 1, 2017, in the wake of Baghdad's stern reaction to the independence referendum, he continues to play a central and influential role in the Kurdistan Region and in Iraq as a whole.
This is no less the case after KDP voters turned out in strong numbers in both national and regional elections in 2018.
"I am optimistic about this visit [of Barzani] that would be a base for resolving the issues that were often called 'long-standing disputes,' namely the budget, partnership, and understanding [between Erbil and Baghdad]," said Salim al-Jabouri, a Sunni leader and former Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker, to Kurdistan 24.
Barzani has historic ties with Abdul-Mahdi and he is reportedly optimistic about the prospect of the new prime minister being capable of resolving the deep-rooted disputes between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq's federal government.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Addition reporting by Aras Ahmed in Baghdad)