Baghdad ends air blockade of Kurdistan, Iraqi PM announces

Lester Mason
March 13, 2018

Al-Abadi's announcement on Tuesday comes some six months after the airports were initially shut to worldwide flights following a controversial referendum vote in northern Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region that overwhelmingly backed independence from Baghdad.

The announcement comes six months after the airports were shut to worldwide flights following a controversial referendum vote in northern Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region that was deemed illegal by Baghdad.

The airports are due to open "within a few days" government spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told The Associated Press.

Kurdish authorities have agreed for Erbil and Sulaimaniyah airports to come under federal control, reporting to Baghdad's Ministry of Interior, the decree said.

Al-Abadi said a higher committee will be formed "to oversee the management of the Kurdish region's airports to ensure their compliance with the federal government's standards".

In September 2017 people in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted in the controversial referendum, despite warnings from the central government in Baghdad and worldwide opposition.


The Iraqi military has denied reports about demarcating borders between the central government in Baghdad and northern Iraq's Kurdish region.

The referendum was held despite strong opposition from Baghdad, the worldwide community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran. Initially, al-Aabdi's tough line on Iraq's Kurds translated into widespread public support among his base in Iraq's Shiite-heartland.

The Iraqi President Fuad Masoum on Tuesday rejected a bill for the country's 2018 federal budget, which the Iraqi parliament endorsed earlier, over constitutional, legal and financial violations, threatening to paralyze the federal government ahead of the country's parliamentary elections slated for May 12.

Iraq's Parliament approved the country's controversial 2018 budget bill in the absence of Kurdish politicians, who boycotted the session.

Iraq's small landlocked Kurdish region has been increasingly isolated following the September referendum, straining relations with key allies such as the United States and neighboring Turkey.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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