Davos WEF: PM Barzani Made Significant Progress in Solving Crisis
Iraqi Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani reportedly made significant progress in resolving the ongoing independence crisis, as a result of numerous meetings in Davos, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF.)
PM Barzani was accompanied to Davos by deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani and several other officials and representatives from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG.) He met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, discussing how to resolve the crisis, and increase regional stability.
“The meeting was certainly important. We talked about our meeting and steps we have taken with Baghdad up to now. He [Rex Tillerson] was optimistic that we will eventually reach a result,” Barzani said.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi later met with Nechirvan Barzani, and reportedly promised to lift the blockade on Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqi federal government is yet to lift the land and air blockade, despite numerous requests from KRG PM Barzani to end the crisis diplomatically.
A source close to the KRG delegation said that several foreign companies have promised a number of investment deals, but are waiting for the blockade to be lifted.
Although progress is certainly being made, it remains unclear when both parties will restore full diplomatic ties. Relations between the KRG and Iraq broke down last September as a result of a referendum for independence, which saw over 90% of voters vote in favour of breaking away from Iraq.
In response to the referendum, Iraqi forces launched an offensive in northern Iraq, seizing Kirkuk and other areas from Kurdish Peshmerga troops. PM Barzani, who currently also serves as the commander-in-chief of the Peshmerga, decided to avoid military confrontation with Iraqi forces. He has instead focused on pressuring Baghdad to negotiate and engage in dialogue, by meeting with other world leaders who are able to influence the Iraqi government.
The KRG and Iraq are also negotiating a 2018 budget for Iraqi Kurdistan, to pay public sector workers and fund public services. Baghdad has not provided the KRG with any funding since 2014, putting the autonomous region under financial strain.