‘Our aim is simple: defend the constitutional rights,’ of Kurdish people, says PM Barzani in Baghdad

The premier’s first meeting was with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani in Baghdad.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (left) is pictured during his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani in Baghdad, Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo: KRG)
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (left) is pictured during his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani in Baghdad, Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo: KRG)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Shortly after his landing in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said his visit’s aim is “simple”, which is defending the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region’s people.

Barzani arrived in Baghdad on early Thursday accompanied by a high-level Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation, including Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, ministers of interior, finance and economy as well as other top Kurdish officials.

The premier’s first meeting was with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani in Baghdad, where the two leaders are expected to discuss the budgetary dispute between Erbil and Baghdad.

“Our aim is simple: defend the constitutional rights of the people in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” Barzani posted X platform, formerly known as Twitter.

He is set to meet with other Iraqi leaders “across the political spectrum,” according to the post.

At least 10 meetings have been confirmed on the premier’s schedule, lasting until midnight, Aziz Ahmad, the deputy chief of staff to Barzani, said in a separate social media post early Thursday.

Erbil has repeatedly called on Baghdad to pay its share of the federal budget adopted in June.

Despite fulfilling its obligations under the agreements, Erbil says the federal government has not paid its civil servants according to what the two sides had previously agreed upon.

Since its adoption in early June, KRG diplomats have alleged the budget has not been implemented properly by the government. Instead of paying the Kurdish share, they allege Baghdad has released allowances to Erbil in order to cover the public salaries. The KRG has previously said the 500 billion dinars (over $384 million) is not sufficient to pay the salaries.

Hailed as one of the country’s biggest budgets, the state expenditures were set at 198.91 trillion Iraqi dinars ($153 billion), with a deficit of more than 64 trillion dinars (over $48 billion).

The Kurdistan Region’s share in the federal budget is set at 12.67 percent, amounting to more than $12 billion annually.

The management of oil and gas has been among the thorny issues between Erbil and Baghdad for over a decade, leading to the suspension of the Region’s share in previous federal budgets.

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (right) walking alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani in Baghdad, Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo: KRG)
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (right) walking alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani in Baghdad, Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo: KRG)
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (right) greeted by Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani in Baghdad, Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo: KRG)
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (right) greeted by Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al-Sudani in Baghdad, Sept. 14, 2023. (Photo: KRG)