Abadi: Kurdistan ‘part of Iraq’ and should remain so

Iraqi Prime Minister urged Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence warning that the region could not do without Iraq

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday urged Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence, warning that the autonomous northern region could not do without Iraq.

“The Kurdistan region will not develop without Iraq, and Iraq must be united in all its components,” he said following talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Kurdistan is part of Iraq and I hope it will remain so.”

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani declared in early February that the “time has come” for the country’s Kurds to hold a referendum on statehood, although the region is, like the rest of Iraq, plagued with major economic problems.

Discontent has been mounting in Kurdistan over unpaid salaries and wage cuts in the government sector, with doctors and traffic police holding protests this month.

Underlining the impact of sinking crude prices to Iraq’s economy, Abadi said oil revenues have plunged to just 15 percent of their level two years ago, as he urged the international community to help shore up his country’s battered economy.

“Iraqi oil revenues have fallen to just 15 percent of the revenues we had two years ago. This is a major decline and we therefore have great difficulties,” he said.

“No one could have expected (the slump) to happen so quickly,” he said, urging the world community to not only help Baghdad in its battle against ISIS militants, but also “support Iraq so that the state can provide essential services to its people.”

“We need a new orientation in the compass of support for Iraq,” added Abadi.

World oil prices have dived by 70 percent since June 2014, due mainly to growing oversupply and weakening global demand.

Announcing a credit line worth 500 million euros ($560 million), Merkel said what Iraq needs is “an economic recovery (through) infrastructure projects, above all in states that have been liberated from the ISIS organization.”

The German funds are aimed at helping Iraq “rebuild their infrastructure, as well as give people hope for the future, so that they can avoid having to leave their country,” she said.

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