Kurdish government accepts Baghdad’s conditions to end dispute

A photo taken on October 29, 2017 shows the building of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region's parliament in Arbil, Kurdistan's capital in northern Iraq. (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2017

Kurdish government accepts Baghdad’s conditions to end dispute

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has agreed on the conditions stipulated by Baghdad’s federal government to solve outstanding problems between the two governments.
Talks will be resumed to end the punitive measures in the Kurdish region, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said on Tuesday.
The KRG held a controversial referendum on independence in late September inside the region and disputed areas seized by the Kurdish forces during the past years.
Baghdad responded by imposing a series of punitive measures on the region including banning international flights into and from the region’s airports, shutting down the border crossings between the region, Turkey and Iran, and launching a huge military campaign to drive the Kurdish forces back to the 2005 constitutionally approved border.
Considering the September referendum illegal, Baghdad took steps to reinforce federal writ in and around the region, which has been autonomous since 2003. Abadi said there is a dispute between Baghdad and the KRG over the border of the region and the running of the border of the country.
“The constitution was clear relating to the border of the region and it was recognized (by the constitution) as the border of the region on March 9, 2001, but the regional (Kurdish) forces were out of these borders,” Abadi said on Tuesday in his weekly press conference.
“Also, the border (of the country) should be exclusively under the control of the federal government… so we took several measures to control the border and the border crossings.
“Now the regional government and the (Kurdish) officials said that they agree on these two points (conditions) and let’s talk,” Abadi said.
“I consider this an essential change… but we want to reiterate two things — which are the referendum was illegal and (there will be) no return to it (the results) again. The second thing is the recognition of the 2003 borders of the region and the borders (of the country) should be under the control of the central government.”

Jordan weighs up Russian offer for voluntary return of Syrian refugees

Destroyed buildings following an explosion on Aug. 12 at an arms depot in a residential area in Syria’s Idlib province city of Sarmada. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2018

Jordan weighs up Russian offer for voluntary return of Syrian refugees

  • Russia has offered to repatriate the Syrians by the end of 2018 but Jordan does not want to force displaced Syrians to return to their homeland
  • Jordan would benefit from reopening its border with Syria, but also carried risks of terrorists enter the country with fake IDs

AMMAN: Russia will help Jordan repatriate more than 150,000 Syrian refugees who fled fighting with the Assad regime in the country’s south, a Jordanian official said.

The official said Russia will repatriate the Syrians by the end of 2018 following the establishment of a center near the border with Syria to process their paperwork.

Jordan’s Minister for Media Affairs Jumana Ghneimat said the Russian proposal has been under discussion.

The Jordanian government refused to force displaced Syrians to return to their homeland, she said.

“It is up to the refugee to decide whether he wants to return, although the presence of large numbers of Syrians has become a burden for Jordan.”

The refugees are mainly from the war-ravaged provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida, the scene of fierce clashes between rebels and Assad government forces. 

Ghneimat said the establishment of a processing center nine kilometers from the border with Syria was part of Russia’s larger proposal for the return of the refugees.

Asked about the reopening of the Nassib border crossing, the minister said it was up to Syria to decide if the crossing would be operational.

The Assad regime had not asked Jordan to reopen the border, she said.

The Jordanian border crossing of Jaber is ready to operate and roads leading to the site are secure, Ghneimat said.

A technical team, including several ministry representatives, visited the crossing last week on a tour of inspection.

Jordan would benefit from reopening the border, which is an important avenue for trade with Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and several European countries, a transport ministry official said.

But reopening the border carried risks, including a fear that terrorists would enter the country with fake IDs, the official said.

The closure of the Jordan-Syrian border had severely affected Jordan’s transport sector, the head of the Syndicate of Jordanian Truck Owners said.

But he said that Jordanian trucks are ready to carry goods to Syria as soon as the border crossing is reopened. Before the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011, about 7,000 trucks drove through the crossing each day.