The controversy over the long-delayed budget session approved by the Iraqi Parliament on Saturday continues as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leaders grasp different attitudes on the issue. KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Sunday that there is no withdrawal of Kurds from the Iraqi politics as it was claimed and that he believes in dialogue as the only way to resolve pending issues, and he remains hopeful.
"We will continue [to work] with Baghdad concerning these matters. Our main goal for continuing [this relationship] is to obtain the requirements of the region and the citizens of the Kurdistan Region. We have established this as a principle. We will distribute salaries from the revenues we have and what we receive, regardless of how much it is," said Barzani, while adding that he is in contact with Prime Minister Haider al-Abad to resolve the issues.
On Saturday, KRG deputies in Federal Parliament said they may withdraw from politics after boycotting Saturday a long-delayed budget session approved by the Iraqi Parliament.
Adil Nuri, a Kurdish lawmaker, said the withdrawal may include the presidential and ministerial posts. "As Kurds, we are considering the option of completely withdrawing from politics. This also includes leaving the presidential and ministerial posts.
Meanwhile, Former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani called for a "united response" against the decision on Sunday.
"What happened in the Iraqi Parliament was another clear move in undermining consensus, power-sharing, balance, and the constitutional rights of the people of Kurdistan," Barzani stated.
"We need all parties in Kurdistan to convene and unitedly express a suitable response and decision against the Iraqi Parliament's passage of the budget," he added.
The budget for more than $88 billion is based on projected oil exports of 3.8 million barrels per day (bpd) at a price of $46, a copy of the final bill showed. It envisions government revenues of $77.6 billion with a deficit of $10.58 billion.
Parliament was meant to pass the budget before the start of the 2018 financial year in January but all three main blocs - Shi'ite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds - had serious issues with the government's proposal. The budget cuts the semi-autonomous KRG's share from the 17 percent the region has traditionally received since the fall of Saddam Hussein. It did not specify a percentage to be allocated to the KRG, instead stipulating it would receive funds proportional to its share of the population.
In a previous draft, the KRG portion was set at 12.67 percent, which is how much of Iraq's population Baghdad says the provinces in Kurdistan make up. The KRG disputes that estimation.
The KRG overwhelmingly voted to secede in an independence referendum in September, which was opposed by Baghdad and the international community. In October, Iraqi forces retook disputed territories, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk that had come under KRG's control in 2014. Baghdad also imposed a number of sanctions on Irbil, including suspending international flights to and from KRG airports. Baghdad and the KRG had been engaged in talks for months about the sanctions and Irbil's share of the budget. The government said Tuesday it had reached an agreement with the Kurds to resume Kirkuk oil exports through Turkey's Ceyhan port but gave no precise timeline.
The projected 3.8 million bpd exports in the budget, includes a 250,000 bpd contribution from the Kurdistan region, lawmakers said Saturday. It was not immediately clear what effect the Kurdish boycott of the vote would have on that.