In Piramagrun sub-district, northwest of Sulaimani city, protesters blocked the Dukan-Sulaimani highway for the third day in a row. Residents in Takya sub-district near Chamchamal also held demonstrations calling for improvements to basic public services, like water and electricity.
During the demonstrations yesterday, protesters set fire to the local headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and gathered at the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) offices. Videos circulating on social media of the protest appeared to contain the sounds of live bullets being fired near the KDP office. The KDP’s Sulaimani headquarters was also burnt by the angry protesters.
In Bazian sub-district east of Sulaimani, Kirkuk-Sulaimani highway was blocked by a number of protesters overnight calling for job opportunities within the factories in the area.
The Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement that the security forces have been given absolute power to implement their “legal duties”.
“We are calling all the sides to keep security and tranquility because the tradition of torching political parties’ headquarters and government institutions will not secure the legitimate rights of the people,” it said.“The security forces will not let the tranquility and movement of people’s business and lives be disrupted and the protection of the government institutions and the political headquarters are the main tasks of the security forces.”
This round of mass protests began on Wednesday when thousands of civil servants, teachers, and local residents gathered in Sulaimani’s main bazaar to voice their anger about the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) handling of deteriorating economic conditions and its failure to pay public sector salaries in full or on time. A second day of protests in the city on Thursday was broken up by the local security forces, which left in at least 25 people wounded.
According to Iraqi state-run newspaper al-Sabah, the KRG and the federal government have reached a “fundamental agreement” regarding the provision of the public sector salaries in the Kurdistan Region. As part of the agreement, the KRG is supposed to submit 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) to the federal State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) along with half of the revenues collected at the border crossings. In return, it will receive a 12.67 budget share, which amounts to an expected 900 billion dinars ($756 million) per month.
A similar agreement had been reached before but was voided after the KRG failed to deliver the barrels of oils it agreed to submit. In April, the federal government of Iraq cut off all budget transfers to the KRG after the latter failed to send any of the 250,000 barrels of oil per day that it was required to under the 2019 Federal Budget Law. After failing to pay civil servants and failing to submit oil, the Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani admitted for the first time that the Region had made an energy deal with Turkey for 50 years.
The deal between the Kurdish party and Turkey was described by the KRG as “the best choice” the KRG’s eighth cabinet took at the time to resolve its economic crisis. Though the details of the agreement were not shared, it is assumed that the dirty alliance formed between the anti-Kurd Turkish state and its Kurdish counterpart, was formed on the basis of personal interests to the Barzani dynasty which has plagued the region with corruptness.
Though several officials of the KDP have since claimed that the oil-shortages in the deal with Iraq are independent of the new deal with the Anti-Kurd Erdogan regime, it has become evident with the KRG’s attempts to otherwise source funds that the Iraq-agreement was breached for Turkish relations.
On November 18, thirty-two Kurdistan Parliament’s lawmakers signed a petition calling on the parliament’s presidency to explain Barzani’s remark about the Turkey-KRG deal being the best choice to have been taken.
KRG paid the last salary on October 15 with an eighteen percent tax cut, while salaries paid in July and August were taxed by twenty-one percent.