23:53 GMT +320 January 2019
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    Iraqi Kurdish demonstrators wave a large Kurdish flag (File)

    Iraqi Kurdistan's Government Wants Russia to Help Solve Independence Crisis

    © AFP 2018 / SAFIN HAMED
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    Suliman Mulhem

    Over three months after Iraqi Kurdistan held a referendum for independence, relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq remain strained, with economic sanctions still imposed on the autonomous Kurdish region.

    A source in the KRG told Sputnik they would like Russia to help solve the crisis diplomatically, by potentially serving as a mediator to facilitate and catalyze bilateral reconciliation negotiations between Iraqi Kurdistan and Baghdad. 

    "We would like Russia to help the KRG settle its dispute with the Iraqi federal government peacefully and diplomatically, based on the constitution. The KRG considers the Russian government to be a friend of Iraqi Kurdistan and the Middle East, so we believe they can help us end this crisis, and prevent any further damage or escalation, for the good of all parties," the source told Sputnik News. 

    Russia is well-positioned to organize and mediate such negotiations, as it has maintained good diplomatic and trade relations with the KRG and Iraq, signing several defense and oil deals throughout 2017. 

    Iraqi Kurdistan PM Nechirvan Barzani has repeatedly called for dialogue with Iraq since October, and he recently visited a number of European nations in a bid to pressure Baghdad to negotiate a deal. Noteworthily, Turkey allowed him to cross through its airspace to reach Europe, as Iraq seized all airports in Iraqi Kurdistan – a move which has been described as a violation of the Chicago Convention by critics. 

    There has been some progress, with PM Barzani recently dispatching a delegation to Baghdad for talks with the Iraqi federal government. 

    READ MORE: Iran Reopens Border With Iraqi Kurdistan Closed After Referendum — Reports

    The PM is particularly keen to strike a deal for the 2018 budget and agree on terms for the lifting of economic sanctions on the autonomous region, as they have not only affected Kurds, but also thousands of refugees in the area. 


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