Iraqi federal government sends April salaries to Kurdistan region security forces

Iraqi federal government sends April salaries to Kurdistan region security forces
The Iraqi government withheld KRG security funds for two months, demanding a formal payroll list, which the KRG refused due to "national security" concerns. 
3 min read
11 June, 2024
Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga have fought IS in Iraq since 2014. [Getty]

The Iraqi federal government finally released April salaries to the Kurdistan region's security forces after a thorough audit of formal payroll lists submitted by Kurdish authorities last week.

This decision follows a ruling by Iraq's Supreme Federal Court on 23 February, mandating that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) hand over all oil and non-oil revenues to the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad. The court also required the Iraqi government to manage the salaries of the northern region's public employees through Iraqi governmental banks.

The Iraqi Ministry of Finance had withheld funds for the KRG Peshmerga Ministry and other security forces for nearly two months, citing the need for a formal payroll list of KRG security force members. The KRG initially rejected this request, insisting on providing a coded list due to "national security" concerns.

However, the KRG council of ministers recently directed the Ministry of Peshmerga to send the formal payroll lists, including names, to the Iraqi finance ministry. The KRG will continue to provide a coded list for Kurdish intelligence agencies and security forces as part of ongoing discussions with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani.

Kurdish lawmakers have frequently accused the KRG of including thousands of ghost names in the payroll lists of Kurdish security forces, including the Roj forces from Syrian Kurds. Jabbar Yawar, the former secretary general of the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga, recently admitted to local and international media that even the Peshmerga ministry did not know the exact number of individuals on the payroll.

On Sunday, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani stressed that his caretaker government is actively working with the federal government to resolve budget and salary issues. He expressed optimism that security forces' salaries for April and the wages of all KRG employees for May would be distributed soon, aiming to address these issues before the Eid al-Adha feast.

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On his part, Qubad Talabani the KRG deputy prime minister expressed optimism that they reach a permanent solution to the salary issue with the Iraqi government.

However, this optimism has been met with scepticism by former Kurdish lawmakers. The two main ruling parties, Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are facing accusations of smuggling crude oil via tankers into Turkey and Iran and pocketing the revenues for their benefit.

Former Kurdistan Parliament lawmaker Omar Gulpi took to his official Facebook page on Sunday to assert that the Iraqi federal government covers the salaries of all KRG employees. He called upon both parties to transparently disclose to the people of Kurdistan how they utilize internal revenues and income generated from oil smuggling via tankers. Gulpi revealed that the revenue from oil smuggling via tankers amounted to three trillion Iraqi dinars, equivalent to US$2,294,439,000.00, over the past six months.