High powered Kurdish delegations from Iraq have invaded Ankara to discuss the urgent financial troubles of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the future of Baghdad.
One delegation headed by KRG Deputy Prime Miniser Kubat Talabani including Minister of Education Safeen Dizayee and the ministers of Natural Resources and Finance of the KRG arrived in Ankara on Sunday and discussed in detail their deteriorating financial situation since Baghdad continues to deny the KRG its share of the oil revenue earmarked by the constitution.
The KRG is currently exporting oil through Turkey (about 100 thousand barrels daily) and the revenue is going into a Turkish bank account for Iraq. The money will eventually be handed over to Iraq. Yet Ankara has reportedly agreed to give the Kurds their share of the revenue that is appropriated to the KRG by the Iraqi constitution.
However, Kurds say this revenue is quite low at the moment and the figures do not add up to the exports of 100 thousand barrels per day. So the Kurds say the Baghdad government owes them several months of back pay and may seek compensation for this from the funds that are being collected by the Turkish bank. Ankara reportedly is sympathetic to easing the KRG's financial problems. The delegation led by Talabani left Ankara on Monday just an hour after KRG President Masoud Barzani flew in with his delegation.
So the second ranking Kurdish delegation led by Barzani met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
According to sources close to Barzani, the Iraqi Kurds told Ankara they will strive for the creation of a national unity government in Baghdad without Nouri al-Maliki becoming prime minister. Barzani explained that this will be a long and painful process. First, the Iraqi parliament has to convene, and then it has to elect a speaker and a president. After that a prime minister has to be named. All this will take quite some time.
Barzani also told Ankara they are not so eager to declare independence and will strive to keep Iraq intact, but if the situations deteriorate further, they will gradually become more autonomous, even if still as a part of Iraq, making their own independent financial and economic decisions.
Ankara and Barzani agreed to cooperate to halt the spread of violence in Iraq and the growing menace of the Sunni Arab extremists. Barzani voiced readiness to step up efforts for the release of the 49 Turkish hostages being held by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sam (ISIS) militants in Mosul.
Ankara also told Barzani about its concerns for the future of Kirkuk and Iraqi Turkmens.
The two sides discussed the plight of the tens of thousands of Turkmens and the KRG promised to help Ankara ease the suffering of these people.
All of this boils down to one thing: the Iraqi Kurds badly need Turkey and Ankara needs them.