President Barzani Visits Baghdad After Six Years Hiatus

On July 3, President Masoud Barzani traveled to Baghdad for the first time in six years and met top Iraqi leaders and foreign ambassadors. During his visit he met with Iraqi Pri

President Barzani Visits Baghdad After Six Years Hiatus

On July 3, President Masoud Barzani traveled to Baghdad for the first time in six years and met top Iraqi leaders and foreign ambassadors.

During his visit he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani to discuss the relations between Erbil and Baghdad, the Barzani Headquarters said in a readout.

“I am pleased to meet with my dear brother, Prime Minister Sudani,” he told reporters after the meeting, underlining that he appreciates the Iraqi prime minister’s role in improving Baghdad-Erbil relations, as well as the efforts of Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani.

“President Barzani plays a big role in the political process of Iraq, and we have held constructive negotiations about all the issues related to domestic development, as well as the region in general,” Iraqi Prime Minister Sudani said about the visit.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office in a readout said that the discussions focused on solving issues between the federal government and the KRG “across various fields and files, ensuring services reach citizens throughout Iraq.”

“Additionally, regional developments and their implications for regional security and stability were addressed.”

The readout also said that Iraqi Prime Minister Sudani welcomed President Masoud Barzani’s visit, “affirming the government’s commitment to opening opportunities for development and future prospects, which would bring prosperity and welfare to people across the country.”

Additionally, while in Baghdad President Masoud Barzani met with the ambassadors of France, the UK, China, the United States, the UAE, Russia, and the Czech Republic.

He also met with President of the Supreme Judicial Council Judge Faiq Zidan, and they discussed “a number of legal and judicial files related to developing the work of the judiciary in the region.”

“President Masoud Barzani’s visit to Baghdad does not merely signify the region’s determination to establish a functional mechanism of cooperation with Baghdad, but also highlights the progress made by the KRG in mending relations,” Ceng Sagnic, chief of analysis at U.S.-based consultancy firm TAM-C Solutions, told Kurdistan Chronicle. “In other words, if President Masoud Barzani himself visits Baghdad, it should be seen as an indicator that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for Iraq-KRG relations.”

“This is largely because the significant symbolic figure of Masoud Barzani would not have risked a visit without a guarantee of success,” Sagnic added. “Additionally, it is noteworthy that Barzani was visited by the U.S. and Chinese ambassadors to Iraq during his stay in Baghdad, another sign that his crucial mediating role is recognized and his efforts have international support. This is a significant aspect of the visit, as the KRG has not received such a high level of international support since the 2017 referendum.”

Sagnic also noted that President Masoud Barzani played a significant role in the founding of the provisional authority – the post-Saddam Iraqi government in 2003 – the writing of the Iraqi Constitution, and, ultimately, the defeat of ISIS.

“Therefore, Iraqi stakeholders view him not just as a Kurdish political figure but as an influential actor whose impact has benefited the country as a whole. This significant personal history and symbolic presence could only be leveraged following extensive efforts by the KRG to propose an agenda and road map for repairing relations. The KRG has successfully undertaken this task, paving the way for Barzani’s visit to Baghdad.”

Mohammed Salih, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Kurdistan Chronicle that President Masoud Barzani’s visit is significant because he is seen as the most senior and powerful Kurdish politician in Iraq today.

“The visit and meetings in Baghdad generate hope for building up on the recent positive developments in KRG-Baghdad relations, with regard to Kurdistan Region elections and financial issues. The disputes between Baghdad and Erbil are complex and multifaceted, and such a visit is not going to put an end to them. However, it helps further lessen tensions and create a more positive atmosphere of mutual engagement.”

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“Also, the KDP and KRG’s recent outreach to Iran and improvement of bilateral relations with Tehran will help boost relations between Baghdad and Erbil too,” Salih added.

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