Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Iraqi prime minister reopens Kurdish airports to worldwide flights

Iraq map showing Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region Iraq map showing Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region
Patty Aguilar | 13 March, 2018, 23:01

He also said that a new security directorate will be established to protect the airports in the Kurdish region and it will be under command and control of the federal Interior Ministry.

On March 3, the Iraqi parliament endorsed a bill for the country's 2018 federal budget with about 77 billion US dollars and a deficit of about 10 billion dollars, after months of heated debate among the political blocs over multiple controversial items, including the 17-percent allocation from the national budget for the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Abadi made the announcement during his meeting with the officers of the regional Interior Ministry who were working at the two airports, Xinhua news agency cited the statement as saying.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi announced the reopening of the airports in Erbil and Suleimaniyah to global flights", said a tweet published by Mr Abadi's official account.

The referendum was vehemently rejected by Baghdad and Iraq's other neighbors, ratcheting up tensions in the region on the heels of military victories against the Islamic State group.

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In October 2017, Iraqi federal forces retook control of the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and many disputed territories in response to the Kurdish referendum.

The referendum was held despite strong opposition from Baghdad, the worldwide community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Worldwide flights to and from the region's two main airports have been halted since September 29, part of sanctions imposed on the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region after it conducted an independence referendum in defiance of Baghdad's wishes.

Since the air ban was enforced, all Kurdistan-bound worldwide flights have been rerouted to Baghdad, which has also imposed entry visas to foreigners wishing to visit the Kurdistan region.

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