Live: Iraqi Parliament Votes on budget bill

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Article 4 of the budget bill has been omitted. Here is the text of the removed article:

When necessary, the Federal Council of Ministers has the authority to transfer allocations of loans listed in this law and to change the beneficiary of the loan.

Parliament to meet at 1300 (Baghdad time) to continue voting on the budget bill.
That was quick: the parliament has adjourned the session until later on Friday.
Photos from tonight's vote on several articles of the Iraqi budget bill.
credit: Parliament Speaker's Office

Massive Budget

The Iraqi budget bill, the largest in the country's history, totals US$152 billion and is based on a price of US$70 per barrel of oil. This bill covers the fiscal years from 2023 through 2025 and consists of 67 articles.

Several articles of the Iraqi federal budget have been voted on, particularly those that are not contentious. However, a number of articles have been deferred for a vote at a later date.

It remains unclear whether the MPs will address articles 13 and 14, which concern the Kurdistan Region's share of the budget.

The Iraqi parliament votes to adopt the value of a barrel of oil at $70.

Following eleventh-hour negotiations among the Finance Committee members and various political factions, the Iraqi Parliament finally conducted a session to vote on its national budget.

The session, which began late on Thursday, has already approved the first article concerning the exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar to the US dollar. The exchange rate is now fixed at 1300 Iraqi dinars per one US dollar.


Reported changes to the budget bill

Rudaw claims to have obtained a copy of the latest version of the budget bill. For comparison, please see our earlier report for the previous version of the draft budget bill.

NRT English has not been able to independently verify this text. 

Article 13


The Kurdistan Regional Government in coordination with the Iraqi Ministry of Transportation shall ensure the transfer of no less than 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day on average from Kurdistan Region fields to the reservoirs of the State Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) to be transported through the Turkish port of Ceyhan. This would be based on monthly data provided by the Ministry of Natural Resources in the Kurdistan Region and after approval by the Oil Ministry and the Federal Financial Auditing Bureau in coordination with the Financial Auditing Bureau in the Region.

SOMO will export the oil at the same price and mechanisms relied upon by the company, and the revenues will become the final revenue of the general treasury.


If oil is not exported through Ceyhan Port or any other official port designated by the Federal Ministry of Oil, the KRG shall be obliged to hand over the amounts of oil referred to in paragraph (a) of this article to the Federal Ministry of Oil for domestic use according to requirements determined by the Federal Oil Ministry.


The Federal Ministry of Finance is required to compensate the Kurdistan Region for the cost of extracting and transporting the amount of oil taken from the Kurdistan Region, as determined by the Federal Ministry of Oil in accordance with paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section. The cost of production and transportation must be equivalent to the average cost of production and transportation of barrels of oil within the Federal Ministry of Oil, and must be multiplied by the amount of barrels received under this section.

Article 14


All revenues from oil exports or local sales of oil produced from the Kurdistan Region's fields will be deposited into a single bank account opened by the Iraqi Central Bank. This account will accumulate all revenues resulting from the export or sale of crude oil and its derivatives, without any deductions for any purpose. All similar accounts must be closed.


The Iraqi Ministry of Finance is required to pay the financial entitlements of the Kurdistan Region in accordance with the provisions of this law and the tables contained therein. These payments will be deposited into the account of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which is guaranteed by the Central Bank of Iraq. The Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, or any person authorized in his place, will have the authority to withdraw from this account, in accordance with the provisions of this law. This account will be subject to financial supervision by the Federal Government and the Federal Financial Auditing Bureau.


During a press conference in Riyadh, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, together with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, spoke about the collaborative efforts to combat the trafficking of illegal synthetic drugs. Blinken is currently on a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia.

"I also discussed with GCC partners, increasing our joint efforts to combat illicit synthetic drugs like Captagon, which is having a devastating impact on young people throughout this region, just as Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are doing the same in the United States," Blinken said. "This partnership would be a vital component of our diplomacy to strengthen global cooperation on the growing challenge posed by illicit synthetic drugs."


Tehran says two weapon storages found on border with Iraq

credit: IRNA

Iranian military forces report confiscating two caches of weapons at the Iraq-Iran border during distinct operations, says the official IRNA news agency. 

The first seizure, conducted by a Border Guards battalion in Dehloran, in the western Ilam province, involved the capture of six AK-47 assault rifles and 15 pistols, allegedly smuggled from Iraq by arms traffickers who escaped. 

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) spearheaded the second operation in Abadan County, Khuzestan Province, resulting in the confiscation of a significant quantity of arms. This operation was a collaboration involving the IRGC, police, and the Ministry of Intelligence. 

Tehran appears to be seeking more pretexts to launch attacks against the Iranian Kurdish opposition groups and to call for the surrender of its members. 

The Iranian government maintains pressure on Iranian-Kurdish opposition parties, and it has been seen moving heavy arms to its Kurdistan border. 

Unverified reports have recently emerged about an ultimatum allegedly set by Iranian authorities for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to disarm Iranian Kurdish opposition groups.

Amid rumors of a military buildup near the Iraqi Kurdistan border, these groups, which include the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), Organisation of Iranian Kurdistan Struggle (Khabat), The Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), and Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), face the threat of renewed attacks in northern Iraq.

Yousef Al-Kalabi, a member of the Iraqi parliament's finance committee, informed NRT Kurdish that the parliament is set to convene later today. He stated that a political consensus has been reached on all provisions of the budget bill, including those related to the Kurdistan Region, which will be ratified by majority vote. 

In this context, a majority vote suggests that even without universal consensus, the vote will continue as planned. 

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani is scheduled to hold discussions with the members of the finance committee regarding the budget bill.

Independent MP Hadi al-Salami highlighted that the parliament's leadership breached internal regulations, which mandate the distribution of the final budget bill to all MPs 48 hours prior to the voting session. He stressed that "up until now, MPs have not received a copy of the budget bill."

More from independent MP Hadi al-Salami from the Shafaq News report:

Salami says the revised version of the budget law "mysteriously vanished" from the Finance Committee over a week ago. He goes on to say that currently, amendments to the draft budget law are being executed by the House of Representatives' Presidency and heads of political blocs, outside the purview of the Finance Committee and parliament members.

He expresses concerns over the worrisome atmosphere within the House of Representatives due to the disappearance of the draft budget law and the introduction of undisclosed amendments. He further points out that the Parliamentary Finance Committee has not yet cast a definitive vote on the budget law.


'Budget bill disappeared' – Iraqi MP

As we reported earlier, most Iraqi MPs have not been privy to the details of the final version of the budget bill, mere hours before the planned vote.

The privately owned Shafaq News website quoted Independent MP Hadi al-Salami as saying that the specifics of the final draft of the state budget, due for a vote in just a few hours, have not been shared with the MPs.

"This does not bode well; the bill has disappeared."

While we are talking about the Kurdistan Region elections, here is what the leader of NGM said on Wednesday:
Here is the text of the KRG's statement following the meeting with the US ambassador:

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani welcomed US Ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, this Thursday. Also in attendance was the US Consul General in Erbil, Ervin Hicks.

The meeting focused on resolving issues between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government, emphasizing the necessity for solutions to be based on constitutional adherence and respect for existing agreements.

The predominant topic of discussion was the Kurdistan Region's share of the federal budget. The Prime Minister asserted that they have made every effort to strike an agreement with the federal government within the constitutional framework.

Regarding the internal affairs of the Kurdistan Region, they both agreed that the Kurdistan parliamentary elections should be held as soon as possible.

US ambassador and KRG PM discuss budget and elections
credit: KRG

US Ambassador Alina Romanowski and KRG Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani, discuss the Kurdistan Region's share of the federal budget and the upcoming regional elections.


As has been reported numerous times, the KRG says it continues to advocate for "resolving outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad based on the Iraqi constitution."


Barzani states, "We have made every effort to reach an agreement with the federal government within the framework of the constitution to protect the rights and financial entitlements of the Region. However, we will not accept any infringements on our rights."


Lastly, the topic of regional elections was also addressed, with both parties agreeing that they should be held "as soon as possible."


Now that Romanowski has been privy to both perspectives, it remains to be seen if there will be a breakthrough in resolving either of these contentious issues.


The United States committed $148m on Thursday toward stabilization efforts in Iraq and Syria, as it urged Western states to repatriate foreign Islamic State (IS) fighters and their relatives. This pledge was made at a ministerial meeting of the international coalition against IS, co-hosted by Saudi Arabia and the United States, aiming to raise over $600m for a stabilization fund.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who initiated a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, announced the commitment, stating, “This support will meet critical needs that Syrians and Iraqis themselves have identified.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan expressed his discontent at the lack of repatriation action from wealthy countries, branding it as “disheartening and absolutely unacceptable.” He held talks separately with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on the coalition meeting’s sidelines, who is expected to travel to Doha later Thursday for a strategic dialogue session.

KDP leader chairs Political Bureau meeting

We'll see what emerges from today's KDP Political Bureau's meeting, which is to be chaired by KDP leader Masoud Barzani. The KDP is set to discuss not only the budget bill but also the recent federal court's ruling dissolving the Kurdistan Parliament.

We have been hearing that the KDP may threaten to boycott the session if its demands are not met. Several KDP officials have voiced concerns that the bill might be pushed for a vote despite disagreements over the details.

Earlier, NRT Kurdish reported that another proposal— for the KRG to obtain a long-term loan to help repay salary arrears— has already been rejected.


UN preparing centralizes archive to unveil IS crimes in Iraq

landmark initiative by the United Nations (UN) is about to shed light on the crimes committed by the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq. The UN is on the cusp of launching a central archive, storing millions of digitized documents that corroborate the atrocities carried out by the jihadist group.

This project is the fruit of rigorous investigative fieldwork by Unitad, a UN body established to scrutinize IS crimes in Iraq, with the ultimate objective of ensuring justice prevails. Christian Ritscher, the UN's chief investigator, stated that the collaboration with the Iraqi judiciary and authorities is pivotal for Unitad's success.

The evidence accumulated includes a wide array of IS atrocities, such as murder, torture, mass rape, slavery, and genocide. Unitad has digitized eight million pages of documents thus far, helping to shape the course of justice within the Iraqi judicial system. 

The central archive, to be housed at the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq, will soon launch as a consolidated repository of all digitized evidence. According to Ritscher, this initiative could potentially lay the foundation for a comprehensive e-justice system in Iraq and could serve as a leading example on a global scale.

This milestone comes nearly four years after the fall of the last IS stronghold in Syria, marking a significant stride towards holding accountable those responsible for the horrific crimes committed during the IS's reign.

Six Yazidi women reunited with families

In a heartwarming development, six Yazidi women have reunited with their families nearly nine years after being kidnapped by the Islamic State jihadists. The emotional reunion was first announced by Nobel laureate and Yazidi activist, Nadia Murad. These women, who were abducted as children and teenagers, represent a fraction of the thousands of Yazidis who suffered forced marriages, sex slavery, and other atrocities during the IS rule in Sinjar province between 2014-15.
Continuing from his earlier reporting, NRT Kurdish correspondent Goran Fattah states that another unresolved issue concerns the proposal that oil production from the Kurdistan Region — amounting to 400,000 barrels per day — should also account for the local consumption. 

This proposal by the Iraqi government seeks to include local consumption, ensuring that even if this amount is not exported (well, no oil has been exported from the Kurdistan Region via Turkey's Ceyhan port for the past 74 days), the Iraqi state marketer, State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), could utilize the oil to satisfy local usage.

Yet more budget bill revisions stir up controversy as vote looms

Omed Mohammed, an MP from the New Generation Movement (NGM) in Baghdad, expressed to NRT English that, like many other fellow lawmakers, he has not yet seen the latest revision of the budget bill. The lack of transparency surrounding the revisions has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and discontent among lawmakers.

NRT Kurdish reporter Goran Fatah noted that while some issues from earlier drafts have been resolved, others persist. In a potentially positive development, Clauses 1 and 10 of Article 14 have reportedly been modified to empower only the Iraqi Prime Minister — not the finance minister — to authorize the KRG prime minister, or his designated representative, to disburse funds from the oil revenue account. Additionally, the KRG would retain the ability to produce oil from the Kirkuk and Nineveh fields.

However, a surprising and controversial addition to the bill has emerged: a new section proposes granting the federal court the authority to resolve lingering disputes between Erbil and Baghdad. Given the court's recent history of rulings, this proposed change has understandably sparked vehement opposition from the KDP. 

The budget bill's ongoing revisions and the contentious points they raise underscore the complex dynamics of Iraq's political landscape, as lawmakers navigate their way towards an mutually acceptable consensus.
KDP faction head notes "a lot of issues" ahead of vote

Viyan Sabri, the KDP's faction head in Baghdad, disclosed to that numerous issues still require resolution prior to any vote. While specifics remain undisclosed, Sabri stressed the complexities involved in the matter.

"The Iraqi Parliament session has been postponed to 8PM to allow the Finance Committee to vote on the newly revised sections," Sabri said.

She added, "The budget still harbors many problems. We aim to address all these issues prior to bringing it to the Iraqi Parliament meeting hall for voting, which is why the session has been deferred to 8PM tonight."

Revised Iraqi budget bill recap

Alterations proposed two weeks ago to the budget bill by the Iraqi parliament's finance committee concerning the Kurdistan Region's share have prompted significant opposition from the KRG and the KDP, leading to the current delays.

One of the contentious points appears to be an article which states that the KRG Prime Minister would need to secure approval from the Iraqi Finance Minister to utilize oil revenue. This has been perceived by the KRG and Erbil as a reduction of their power.

Amended Article 14
1. The Federal Oil Ministry will deposit all revenues from oil produced in the Kurdistan Region’s fields into an account opened by the Iraqi Central Bank, aggregating all revenues from the export or sale of crude oil and its derivatives without any deductions. The Federal Finance Ministry will authorize the KRG Prime Minister or his representative to disburse funds from this account. The account will be subject to oversight by the Federal Financial Auditing Bureau and the federal government, with all similar accounts required to be closed.

Another point of dispute is the newly introduced Clause 8, seemingly proposed by the PUK, which calls for the Sulaymaniyah province's budget share to be received directly rather than being disbursed by the KDP-led KRG. All PUK members of the finance committee voted in favor of these amendments, while KDP members walked out.

New Clause 8
In the event of disagreements between the Federal Government and the KRG concerning rights, obligations, or adherence to stipulations in Article (13) Clauses (one and two), or Article (14) Clauses (one to seven), a 15-day period will be allocated for resolving these differences. If no resolution is achieved within this timeframe, the transfer of the Region’s dues will be suspended pending the Federal Court’s decision.

Another new clause is related to the oil fields currently under KRG control.

New Clause 10
Both the federal government and the regional government are obliged to stop oil extraction from the Kirkuk and Nineveh fields by the current regional government.

Finally, the KRG is required by a new clause to pay public sector employees an additional 10% of their salary as compensation for previous deductions until the balance is settled.

New Clause 12
The KRG is obliged to pay an additional amount, not less than 10% of each employee’s salary, in addition to their full salary, as compensation for compulsory savings deducted in previous years. This extra amount will serve as compensation until balances are cleared.

For a full breakdown, see our coverage below:

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has vehemently rejected last-minute amendments to the Iraqi federal budget bill, describing them as “unconstitutional and oppressive”. The amendments, which were approved by a majority of the 23-member finance committee of the Iraqi Parliament, appear to challenge a previous agreement between Erbil and Baghdad. These changes address the handling and management of oil revenues, the administration of border crossings, and procedures for settling disputes. In a statement issued on Friday, the KRG asserted that the […]
NRT English
During a press conference in Sulaymaniyah, she informed NRT Kurdish that the US is in favor of timely, free, and fair elections, expressing hope that the UN will assist in ensuring this occurs.
Press round table with Ambassador Romanowski and local Sulaymaniyah journalists
Press round table with Ambassador Romanowski and local Sulaymaniyah journalists   credit: NRT Kurdish
Here's her tweet on the visit:

US ambassador encourages KDP-PUK dialogue in Sulaymaniyah visit

US Ambassador Alina Romanowski's busy Wednesday in Sulaymaniyah, featuring a university graduation ceremony, meetings with activists, and a gallery visit, was overshadowed by her meeting with the PUK leader Bafel Talabani.

Romanowski's remarks urging immediate Kurdistan Parliamentary elections and KDP-PUK dialogue took center stage in news coverage. The US has often mediated when relations between the KDP and PUK have become strained.

Before their May agreement, brokered by US mediation, the two parties had held no public meetings for several months due to a PUK ministerial strike. Following the meetings, PUK members resumed their cabinet roles, a development welcomed by the US Ambassador. Although this agreement has since largely unraveled, relations have marginally improved, with PUK ministers and Deputy PM Qubad Talabani still attending cabinet meetings.

PUK media reported on Romanowski's meeting with Talabani, emphasizing PUK's call for "free and fair elections" under a new election law and a competent election commission. Talabani expressed hope to Romanowski that these issues could be resolved through compromise, a stance echoed by most regional political parties, but seemingly not favored by either the KDP or PUK.

Romanowski and Talabani also reportedly discussed judicial independence, with reference to recent court rulings in Erbil sentencing PUK security officials to death in absentia. PUK media outlets quoted Talabani expressing concern over political interference in the judiciary. Romanowski, however, made no mention of this in her social media updates.

The recent focus on the Iraqi budget bill will likely impact KDP-PUK relations, as controversial amendments backed by the PUK seemingly aim to undermine the KDP-led KRG's authority. The future implications of this will be closely watched.

Talabani concluded his remarks by stating, "The current political situation in the [Kurdistan] Region benefits no one, pushing us away from effective politics and governance. This state of affairs cannot end without relinquishing the domineering and imposing mindset."

Senior PKK figure among trio killed in Sulaymaniyah - Anadolu Agency

Anadolu Agency, Turkey's state-run news organization, has reported the killing of three Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in the Kurdistan Region's Sulaymaniyah province, including a high-ranking member, on Thursday.

According to a security source, the operation led by Turkish intelligence resulted in the death of senior PKK leader Fehmi Ogmen, also known by the codename Sinan Dijvar, in a rural part of Sulaymaniyah.

Alongside Ogmen, two of his associates, known as battalion officer Mehmet Salih Cakal (codename: Mazlum Kocer) and driver Ahmed Muhammed Ali (codename: Ararat Tolhildan), were reportedly 'neutralized' in the same operation.

The term "neutralize" is often employed by Turkish authorities and media outlets to denote either the capture or killing of PKK members.

In a separate report by Anadolu Agency yesterday, the Turkish National Defense Ministry was cited stating that an aerial operation in northern Iraq's Avasin region resulted in the neutralization of two individuals associated with the PKK.
Morning briefing
Today might finally see the passing of Iraq's substantial budget bill for the fiscal period 2023 to 2025 in parliament. As we speak, eleventh-hour discussions are underway amongst political parties and parliamentary factions concerning contentious specifics, notably Articles 13 and 14, which relate to the Kurdistan Region's budget allotment.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) communicated to us yesterday that accord on Articles 13 and 14 of the budget has been accomplished. Yet, the acceptance of the new specifics by political parties, originally responsible for the contentious alterations to these articles, remains a significant factor. We will remain vigilant, tracking the particulars of the agreement allegedly reached between members of the government coalition yesterday. Up to now, minimal information has been released.

Rumours suggest that the budget may face a vote and be passed by a majority, as opposed to consensus. This shift could potentially ignite serious disputes.

In other news:
  • The rift between the KDP and PUK continues to widen. The US ambassador to Iraq has expressed her support for the PUK's attempts to cooperate with the KDP and conduct the regional parliamentary elections "as soon as possible." PUK leader Bafel Talabani had a meeting with the US envoy yesterday in Sulaymaniyah, where she insisted there is still time for the elections to take place if the KDP consents to a new election law and abandons its "domineering and imposing mindset."
  • State-owned Anadolu Agency reports that three Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members, including a senior figure, were "neutralized" in Sulaymaniyah province on Thursday. The Turkish defense ministry claimed yesterday that it had eliminated two PKK members.