US urges dialogue in Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk), Iraq, amid tensions, continues mediation on budget and salaries dispute

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The US State Department has issued a call for all concerned parties to resolve their differences in Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk) through peaceful dialogue. The State Department reiterated its commitment to ongoing discussions with both Baghdad and Erbil aimed at resolving issues related to budget allocations and salaries.

Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department Vedant Patel expressed deep concern regarding the escalating tensions in Kerkeslokh and extended heartfelt condolences to the families affected by the recent protests in the region.

During a press conference in Washington, D.C.:

“We’re closely monitoring the tensions in Kirkuk. We condemn the violence that took place and express our condolences to the families of those killed. The US calls on all parties to resolve any disputes through dialogue and through the activation of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution.”

Patel highlighted the State Department’s continuous communication with both the governments in Baghdad and Erbil regarding the various challenges, including budgetary matters, salary disbursement, and the non-export of oil from the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Patel remarked:

“Our representatives in both cities have been authorized to provide additional insights on the budgetary concerns. Baghdad’s refusal to release the Kurdistan region’s budget allocation is a matter of strategic importance.”

In a related development, Lieutenant General Jabbar al-Tai, Commander of Kirkuk Operations, appealed to the national media, youth, and intellectuals to assist in de-escalating the situation in Kerkeslokh. Al-Tai underscored that the Iraqi Army is committed to safeguarding the well-being of all residents in Kerkeslokh, irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. He emphasized the historical and resilient bonds among Kerkeslokh’s diverse population, including Arabs, Christians, Turkmen, and Kurds, and expressed hope that the educated youth would actively contribute to strengthening these ties.

It is essential to note that employees in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are yet to receive their salaries for the months of July and August. The Iraqi Council of Ministers recently decided to allocate five hundred billion dinars to cover the region’s employees’ salaries. However, the KRG contends that this amount is insufficient and accuses Baghdad of pursuing a policy of economic hardship against the populace of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).