IRAQ: Kurdish Regional Government allows reopening of roads in the Tel Kef district, Nineveh

NINEVEH, Iraq – Roads in the east of Tel Kef district in the Nineveh Governate which were under Kurdish control since the liberation from ISIS in 2017 were fully opened again for travel and commute. The re-opening of the roads comes after a recent meeting of Syriac Chaldean Minister of Immigration and Displacement in Iraq Evan Faeq Jabro with Interior Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government Ribar Ahmad. This week the KRG answered the request positively and opened up the roads for traffic and commute. It concerns the roads along the eastern south-north line which links Tel Kepe with Alqosh through Batnaya, Baquba and Tesqopa.

After 27 months the Tel Kef district and the Nineveh Plains are still contested by the KRG. The areas are divided between the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces. Both have set up road blocks and check-points.

The KRG disputes the central authority over these areas. It uses the areas as a tool to pressure the central government in Baghdad in e.g financial budget conflicts. The central government rejects KRG authority over Nineveh and, after the retaking of Nineveh from ISIS and the September 2017 Kurdish independence referendum, has taken back control through Iraqi security forces and Popular Mobilization Forces, which has among its ranks rogue militias.

The opening of the roads by the KRG might be a gesture to smooth budget talks with Baghdad and appease the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people. The KRG is going through financial problems and has difficulties in paying its civil servant – which is the largest part of the Kurdish Region in Iraq’s workforce. Recently the Barzani-led KDP granted Assyrian Democratic Movement representative Shlimon Shamoun the deputy head position in the Provincial Council of Nohadra (Dohuk). Although unconfirmed, in the corridors it is rumored this might have been granted because Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian political parties in the KRI parliament endorsed the KDP in removing the parliamentary immunity of a Kurdistan Islamic Union MP who accused PM Masrour Barzani of owning a company and a bank, which could pose a political conflict of interests.

The central government is also courting the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people. This year it granted one Ministry and two senior positions in the government’s institutions to Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians.