ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi will visit Erbil “in the coming days” to meet with senior Kurdish officials and leaders and discuss a range of regional issues, his office told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.
Abdul-Mahdi’s office did not specify the anticipated date of the visit but Second Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, Bashir Haddad, informed Kurdistan 24 it may be shortly after the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Following the inauguration of Nechirvan Barzani as the new President of the Kurdistan Region—which took place on Monday at the Saad Abdullah Conference Hall in the presence of regional lawmakers and foreign and local leaders and dignitaries—Members of Parliament will elect the regional prime minister, who will later be tasked with forming his cabinet.
Monday’s oath-taking ceremony was a parliamentary session but was moved to the conference hall due to the increased number of guests attending. Following the event, acting Kurdistan Region Parliamentary Speaker, Vala Fareed, suspended the session until Tuesday, when the current Kurdish security chief, Masrour Barzani, is expected to be voted in as Prime Minister.
Abdul-Mahdi seeks to personally congratulate Nechirvan Barzani on his inauguration and discuss and further improve ties between the KRG and the Iraqi government, Iraqi media outlets have already reported on the visit.
Baghdad-Erbil relations reached a near-breaking point in late 2017 when Iraqi troops along with Iran-backed Shia militias attacked disputed territories, including the province of Kirkuk, and forced the withdrawal of the Peshmerga from the areas. The operation came in response to the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum, which saw an overwhelming majority vote in favor of statehood.
Since the military takeover of the disputed territories, lack of security has been a major issue for residents, with many from rural areas—where a security vacuum has emboldened an Islamic State insurgency—fleeing to seek safety in the Kurdistan Region.
Since the beginning of Abdul-Mahdi’s tenure as Iraq’s Prime Minister in late 2018, the two governments have been on better terms as dialogue resumed to address concerns and improve ties between Erbil and Baghdad.
Editing by Nadia Riva