Monday, May 29, 2023

Iraq: No federal budget and they're making climate change worse

 Negotiations on Iraq’s budget bill for 2023 have been deferred after the parliament's deputy speaker suspended the legislature's finance committee over legal irregularities the and bypassing of a joint agreement between the Iraqi federal government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

"Our committee has been suspended as per a document from the deputy speaker of Iraq’s parliament, because our committee members are now 24, while according to law the number should not exceed 23," Jamal Kochar, Iraqi lawmaker from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) bloc and member of the Iraqi parliament's finance committee told The New Arab in a phone interview.

"A political agreement is needed before negotiations on Iraq's budget bill for 2023 resumes. The bill has been stuck at the finance committee because the political agreement between the Iraqi government and the KRG has been violated."

The finance committee on Saturday announced some amendments to the budget bill, including a condition that the Kurdish region must first deliver 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) to the federal authorities, along with non-oil revenues, before it can receive a share of nearly 12 per cent from the federal budget.

Azhi Rasul (RUDAW) adds:

 The Kurdistan Region’s finance minister on Sunday said that the finance committee in the Iraqi parliament does not have the right to add or remove articles from bills, adding that the new amendments to the draft budget law aim to ruin Baghdad-Erbil ties. 

The Iraqi parliament’s finance committee on Thursday amended two articles of the bill that relate to the Kurdistan Region, prompting the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG| to slam the amendments as “unconstitutional,” labeling them a violation of the previous agreements between Erbil and Baghdad. 

“The Federal Supreme Court decision No. 35 prevents the parliament from changing the texts in the budget bills sent by the government,” KRG Finance Minister Awat Sheikh Janab said. 

According to Janab, the federal court decision specifies that the finance committee maintains the right to change the numbers in the bill or transfer them between articles and paragraphs, but the committee cannot add or remove any paragraph from the bill. 

“Those who truly want Kurds to remain in Baghdad, and those who value the brotherhood between Kurds and Arabs, are worried. This does not seek to help the closeness between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad, but to ruin the relations between the Region and Baghdad,” Janab said. 

The budget.  It was a big deal May 18th when the United Nations Security Council heard testimony on Iraq (see the May 19th snapshot).  

UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert: Madam President, the resources needed to turn certain Government goals into realities, such as adequate public service delivery, should be unlocked with the passage of a federal budget. This is yet to happen and, these days, all eyes are on Iraq’s Council of Representatives. Needless to say: agreement on a functioning budget, sooner rather than later, is critical. Including for the timely organization of the long-awaited Provincial Council Elections, now announced for no later than 20 December this year.  

The United Kingdom's  Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley:  The UK remains committed to supporting the Iraqi Government and the implementation of its ambitious reform agenda. In particular, passing a budget will be a crucial step in delivering the Government’s priorities including on economic reform and energy diversification.

Khanim Latif, founder and director of Asuda for Combating Violence against Women: Finally, we call on the Iraqi Government to allocate a budget for and fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law adopted in March 2021.[9]

The only one not speaking of the budget that day to the Security Council?  US Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

Every one else thought it was a necessary and worth noting.  Eleven days later and the budget it yet again put on hold.  It's supposed to be passed before the year starts.  That means the budget is 149 days late. 

Iraq's too late -- the whole world is -- to address climate change.  They're using a fix though, for farming, that's actually going to do even more damage.  Timour Azhari and Ahmed Saeed (REUTERS) report:


 Watered by sprinklers fitted to wells dug more than 100 meters under the sun-bleached earth, his land now produces double what it did compared to when he relied on ancient methods that flood fields with river water, he said.

“It’s a golden year, a golden season,” said Salah, wearing a traditional white robe and reflective sunglasses as he walked his field and noted the benefits: less money and water spent, as well as a bigger and quality harvest.

Iraq’s government says this officially supported shift has allowed the country to double areas cultivated with wheat this year to some 8.5 million dunams (850,000 hectares) compared to roughly 4 million (400,000 hectares) last year.

Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Al-Khuzai said that has translated into a harvest of around 4 million tons of wheat — the largest in years and 80 percent of the needs of a country with a 43 million population who eat bread at almost every meal. The shift in methods is driven by necessity: Iraq’s two main rivers, along which civilization emerged thousands of years ago, have lost more than half of their flow due to reduced rainfall, overuse and upstream dams.

Drilling the desert for water could provide immediate relief in a country that the UN says is among the five nations most vulnerable to climate change in the world, and where climate-induced migration has already begun. However, heavy use of the wells could bleed desert aquifers dry, agricultural experts and environmentalists warn. Some farmers have already noted a drop in the water table.

Depleting the aquifers is not an answer, nor is it sustainable.  It will leave Iraq in a much worse situation than it currently is.  And let's remember that currently, Iraq -- if you'd stop the government corruption -- has more than enough money to import wheat.  If climate models do encourage others to finally address climate change, oil revenues will drop for Iraq.  So five, ten years from now, Iraq could find itself with depleted aquifers and with low oil revenues.  This is not sustainable and it is not an answer.

We'll wind down with this from MEDYA NEWS:

The UN-recognised Makhmour (Mexmûr) refugee camp, which is located near Iraq’s Mosul and built by Kurdish refugees in the 1990s, is facing renewed threats as the Iraqi army attempts to surround it with wire fences and trenches.

The present crisis marks the most severe threat since the ISIS assault against the Makhmour region, which is home to 12,000 Kurdish refugees, representatives say. Heavy weapons have been deployed, and UN mediation has failed to resolve the situation. Medya News spoke to Jameel Abdulkarim Omar, a spokesperson for the camp’s Foreign Relations Committee, to hear the latest situation from the camp.

What are the reasons behind the Iraqi army’s efforts to surround Makhmour?

For the past seven days, the Iraqi government has been trying to assert control the camp. We are in a [double bind], because the camp is already under the control of the Iraqi federal government, who in turn are trying to do what the Turkish Government wants. They claim the camp is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK], but in reality this only an excuse for the Turkish government to justify their accusations against the camp.

Thus the Iraqi forces are trying to besiege the camp. The people of the camp have refused this, because we have been living here for more than 20 years. We have never done anything wrong, we obey the law of the Iraqi government, and we have good relations with both Kurds and Arabs in the neighbouring territories, We haven’t done anything wrong toward either the security forces or Iraqi government. This is only occurring at Turkey’s wish.

The following sites updated: