Top Kurdish leaders slam Iraqi Federal Court ruling against payments to Kurdistan Region

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — The top leaders of the Kurdistan Region on Wednesday slammed the Iraqi Federal Court’s ruling to stop remittances by the Iraqi government to the Region.

The Federal Court of Iraq on Wednesday ruled that the Iraqi government’s decision to pay the Kurdistan Region’s financial entitlements violated the Iraqi budget law of 2021.

Following months of talks between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central government, the Iraqi parliament passed a budget law granting Baghdad a financial entitlement for the Region’s share of Iraq’s budget in 2021. Accordingly, the KRG had to sell 250,000 barrels of its oil through Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO).

However, the law wasn’t fully implemented since both sides blamed each other for not adhering to it. Only a few times has Iraq sent 200 billion dinars ($137 million) to Erbil since the law was passed.

Under the new Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani, 400 billion was to be paid for the last two months of 2022, but it never was.

The Federal Court, following a complaint filed by Iraqi MP Mustafa Jabbar and Wasit governor Mohammed Mayahi against PM Sudani, ruled to stop paying the Region’s payments, citing “a violation” of the 2021 budget law.

The court’s ruling coincides with recent talks between Baghdad and Erbil to reach an agreement on the budget law for 2023.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s top leaders lashed out at Wednesday’s Federal Court ruling, as they and the Region’s civil servants have been expecting 400 billion dinars in recent weeks.

The first response came from Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader and former president of the Region, Masoud Barzani, asserting that the Iraqi Federal Court has replaced the revolutionary court of the former regime.”

“Before today’s ruling by the Federal Court being against the Kurdistan Region, it was against the political course, the Iraqi government, and the coalition of the state administrations’ agenda,” reads a statement from Barzani Headquarters.

Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Credit: Barzani Headquarters.
Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Credit: Barzani Headquarters.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) responded to the ruling in a statement, saying that such “decisions are a flagrant violation of the Iraqi constitution.”

Kurdistan Region’s President Nechirvan Barzani said in a statement that the Iraqi top court’s decision is a “completely unfair and oppressive decision.”

Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region. Credit: KRI Presidency.
Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region. Credit: KRI Presidency.

“The decision targets not only the payments to the civil servants and the Kurdish people, who are citizens of Iraq, but also the entire political process, stability, and the agreement on which the new Iraqi federal government is based,” reads the statement.

The Kurdistan Region’s Parliament Speaker Rewaz Fayaq said in a tweet that the decision “distorts the ground for understanding and agreement between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, and puts the future of cooperation and mutual trust in doubt and danger.”

The Kurdistan Region Judicial Council said in a statement on Thursday the Iraqi Federal Court’s ruling on the Region’s payments does not “serve the stability and peace in Iraq,” and that it is contrary to the efforts that “helped Iraq fall out of a difficult crisis last year.”

Oil revenues and budget shares have been the subject of serious disputes between the Kurdistan Region and the central government. In the last few weeks, they were close to finding a solution to their ongoing disputes. It is, however, possible that the Federal Court’s ruling could lead to a deterioration of the talks and a premature end to the negotiations.

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