Barzani says Iraq's 2023 state budget 'unconstitutional'
The leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party says some parties in the Iraqi parliament are acting "irresponsibly".
The head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Former President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, criticized the Iraqi parliament's approval of the state budget for 2023 and claimed that the decision is "unconstitutional".
The Iraqi Kurdistan region, a long-time partner of the United States and other Western powers, has been ruled since its inception in the 1990s by bipartisan power-driven parties - KDP and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK - which in turn saw many citizens of the region living in extreme conditions despite the large oil reserves held by the government.
Barzani said in a statement today on Monday, "It is very unfortunate, what happened in the past few days in the Iraqi parliament of irresponsible and unconstitutional attempts aimed at deepening the problems and violating the legitimate rights of the Kurdistan people."
"Everyone is aware that there are dialogues that led to constructive agreements between the constituent parties of the State Administration Coalition to remove obstacles and solve problems," he added.
His remarks came after the Iraqi parliament approved a state budget for the fiscal year 2023, amounting to 198.9 trillion dinars ($153 billion).
"The Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government have reached a good and positive agreement to resolve the disputes in order to solidify the pillars of stability in the country and serve the people," he continued, claiming however that "what some political parties did is an irresponsible act aimed at undermining the entity of the Kurdistan region," but considered that "their attempts failed."
According to the KDP leader, "What happened in the past few days in the Iraqi parliament has unmasked them and revealed that they do not respect the constitution"
The Kurdistan region belongs to "the Kurdistani people, and is the product of the blood, sacrifices and struggle of those people," he said before stressing, "We strongly oppose any reckless attempt that seeks to overtake and undermine the region."
"For us, the Kurdistan region is not only a red line but also a line of death. Either Kurdistan or annihilation."
According to lawmakers and the budget document, the budget deficit is estimated at 64.36 trillion Iraqi dinars, which is a record-high level and more than double the last budget deficit recorded in 2021.
Iraq's budget set the price of oil at $70 per barrel and expects to export 3.5 million bpd, of which 400 thousand will come from the Kurdistan region.
The vote follows some controversy regarding the objections of political blocs about the mechanism for the Kurdistan region's payment of its oil sales, which evolved into a dispute between Erbil and Baghdad over who has the freedom to manage this money.
In April, Baghdad and Erbil reached an agreement to resolve this issue, stating that oil from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region will be sold and exported through Iraqi state-owned firm SOMO, and the revenue will be deposited in Baghdad's central bank but will be under Kurdistan's control, while the Iraqi government will have access to the account and auditing authority.