Following a night of missile attacks, Iraqi PM visits Erbil to meet with Kurdish officials

Following a night of missile attacks, Iraqi PM visits Erbil to meet with Kurdish officials
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi arrives in Erbil to discuss with local Kurdish officials Iran’s missile attacks.
3 min read
14 March, 2022
A general view shows the damaged mansion of Baz Karim Barzinji following an overnight attack in Erbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on 13 March 2022. [Getty]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited Erbil, the capital city of the northern Kurdistan region, early on Monday, after it was the target of multiple Iranian ballistic missiles, Iraqi PM's media office said on Twitter.

According to Kurdish officials, 12 ballistic missiles rained down on the US consulate and other targets across the city Sunday night, wounding two civilians. 

Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed they fired the missiles, alleging that the targeted sites were used by Israel, a close ally to the US. The US ambassador to Iraq and the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan condemned the attack, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reached out to discuss the incident with Masrour Barzani, current Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Iraqi Prime Minister Kadhimi was accompanied by a high-level security delegation that included Iraq's defence minister, Jumaa Anad, and interior minister, Othman al-Ghanimi. The delegation was received by PM Barzani and the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani. 

"I received PM @MAKadhimi and Iraqi ministers in Erbil to discuss yesterday's despicable attacks and closely see the damage to civilian areas. We're in absolute agreement that the repeated attacks on Iraq's sovereignty must stop –mb," Mansour Barzani tweeted on Monday.

The New Arab contacted the Iraqi PM's media office for comments about the visit, but they were unable to immediately respond to media inquiries.

Meanwhile, Lawk Ghafuri, head of the KRG foreign media relations, told The New Arab, "The main reason behind the Iraqi prime minister's tour was to visit the areas impacted by the attacks, and meet with PM Masrour Barzani and discuss the recent federal court's decision, as well as show support to the people of Kurdistan region."   

At least four of the missiles landed on the residence of Baz Karim Barzinji, CEO and founder of the Iraqi-Kurdish oil company Kar Group, but he was not home at the time of the attack. The Kurdistan24 media channel, a Kurdish news broadcaster aligned with PM Barzani, was also hit because  of its proximity to Barzinji's house, reported Rudaw English

The Iraqi PM notably toured both sites before holding meetings with the senior Kurdish officials.

Barzinji has close ties with the ruling KDP officials, thus Kar Group is seen by local citizens as a KDP enterprise.

The Kurdistan region started selling its oil independently from Baghdad in 2014 via a pipeline that transports nearly 45,000 barrels of oil per day to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

Last month, KRG struck a deal with Kar Group to build a new gas pipeline to generate electricity within the next 16 months from Sulaymaniyah's Khormor and Chamchamal giant gas fields to Dohuk province, only 35km from the Turkish border. The project is seen as a step closer to exporting the region's gas to Turkey in the near future.

Muhamad Amin Penjweni, a Kurdish political analyst told The New Arab it is widely believed that Iran's message behind attacking Erbil is to warn the Kurds off from further exporting the region's natural gas resources into Turkey.