Abadi: Erbil should pay Peshmerga, not Baghdad
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – A Kurdish lawmaker said on Sunday that Baghdad refuses to pay Peshmerga salaries and plans to dismiss Kurds currently in charge of two security posts.
“I asked Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi to provide Peshmerga salaries as a sign of goodwill toward Kurdistan Region,” Shakhawan Abdullah, Head of the Iraqi Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, stated on Jan. 7.
Abdullah cited Abadi’s response that Kurdistan Region should pay the Peshmerga salaries from its oil revenues. Abadi also said that the two security posts—the Chief of Staff and Interior Ministry Deputy—will not be given to Kurdish officials again.
According to Abdullah, Abadi plans on further excluding Kurds from his current government and from any national government in the future.
“Baghdad is aware that Kurds desire to separate from Iraq, but it seems some people inside Kurdistan Region have not realized this fact yet,” Abdullah underscored.
He did not clarify who he meant by “some people.”
At a parliamentary meeting between Abadi and the Iraqi Security and Defense Committee in Baghdad on Sunday, many matters were discussed, including Security files, the Iraqi army, Hashd al-Shaabi militia, liberating Mosul and general financial problems.
Based on the Iraqi Constitution, the Federal Government is in charge of paying Peshmerga as part of the country's defense forces.
Baghdad has avoided paying Peshmerga salaries by claiming that arrears should be paid from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) budget.
In late January, a high-ranking Kurdish delegation led by Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited Baghdad to discuss Peshmergas' budget—the main force fighting Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.
It has been almost two years since Baghdad has frozen the 17 percent budget share of the Kurdistan Region for selling its oil independently.
The budget cut has resulted in a financial crisis and consequently a delay in the payment of Peshmerga and KRG employees salaries for months.
Reporting by Gulala Khaled
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Benjamin Kweskin