On Wednesday, Iraq’s interior minister arrived in Erbil to meet with senior Kurdistan Region officials, voicing his prime minister’s willingness to solve deeply entrenched disputes that have so far outlasted all previous federal and regional administrations.

Masoud Barzani (right), leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), meets with Othman al-Ghanmi, Iraq’s Minister of Interior, July 29, 2020.

Regional Prime Minister Masrour Barzani received Iraqi Minister of Interior Othman al-Ghanmi, discussing “relations between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government, emphasizing the need to develop security coordination in disputed territories and border areas,” according to a KRG press release.

Barzani reiterated his commitment to finding a solution that protects Kurdistan’s constitutional rights and entitlements and serves the interests of the Iraqi peoples.

On his side, Ghanmi stated that the difficult conditions Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are going through during the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to the financial crisis, requires cooperation and coordination between the two.

“Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi is prepared to solve all problems with the Kurdistan Region,” he said.

In late June, a high-level delegation from the KRG headed by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani flew to Baghdad to start its latest round of talks in an effort to reach ever-elusive agreements on the main outstanding problems between Erbil and Baghdad.

Oil and budget have been major sources of friction between the central government in Baghdad and the KRG since the region began to export its oil independently.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani (right), meets with Iraqi Minister of Interior Othman al-Ghanmi, July 29, 2020.

Erbil-Baghdad relations have always been fraught with disputes, nearing a total breakdown after the Kurdistan Region’s 2017 independence referendum, followed by Iraqi forces and Iran-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) attacking disputed areas such as Kirkuk to push Kurdish Peshmerga forces from them.

Since then, the Islamic State has taken advantage of the resulting security vacuum in such areas to stage attacks on nearby towns and cities.

The Iraqi official then met with Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), for discussions that focused on the security of the disputed territories.

The Kurdistan Region announced on July 3 that a high delegation from the Ministry of Peshmerga met with officials from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in Baghdad earlier that day to discuss security collaboration in the disputed territories, where the Islamic State has routinely taken advantage of the security vacuum to stage deadly attacks.

The Iraqi interior Minister also met with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, with both sides confirming the importance of limiting Islamic State movement in the border areas between Iraq and Syria.

Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (right) receives Iraqi Minister of Interior Othman al-Ghanmi in Erbil, July 29, 2020.

During the meeting, which was attended by Kurdistan Region Interior Minister Rebar Ahmad, they discussed the conditions of the border crossings in Iraq, the significance of coordination of both interior ministries, and on managing areas affected by the ongoing war against terrorism.

President Barzani also expressed “his appreciation for the constructive role of Iraq’s Interior Minister and his efforts to support coordination and cooperation with the Kurdistan Region’s relevant institutions.”