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Amid national unrest, Iraqi FM meets top Kurdish leaders in Erbil

SAROK-Mumad-alhakim

Iraq's Foreign Minister Ali al-Hakim met with top Kurdish leaders separately on Monday and Tuesday in Erbil, discussing with them several pressing issues of the day in a country wracked by unrest since October.

Now in their fifth month, anti-government protests—which led to the death of at least 550 people and wounding of over 20,000 others—forced now-caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to resign.

Iraqi President Barham Salih has tasked Mohammed Allawi with forming a new cabinet.
Allawi does not appear to have overt backers among the ruling class, a sensitive issue given the demonstrators' demands for a complete overhaul of the political system and hostility toward Iraqi officials seen as prioritizing their own personal enrichment over the most basic needs of the populace.

Although influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr endorsed him at the start, the fate of this alliance is precarious. Sadr is an unpredictable character in Iraqi politics, just recently having switched positions multiple times by ordering his militiamen to protect and then brutally suppress demonstrators.

In tandem with these developments in the national capital, talks between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to settle a number of fundamental issues between them slowed as Baghdad's focus shifted towards the protests.

Hakim met with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Monday when he arrived in Erbil. On Tuesday, he went on to see Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and then Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

In all three meetings, each participant exchanged views on efforts to form a new Iraqi government led by Allawi, according to separate statements from the offices of the Kurdish leaders.

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said in a social media post that "the new federal govt must be genuinely inclusive, representative of the will of the Iraqi peoples, and engage constructively w/ the Kurdistan Region in line with our constitutional rights."

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