Baghdad ends air blockade of Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi prime minister reopens Kurdish airports to international flights

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday the airports of Arbil and Sulaimaniyah were "again open to worldwide flights" after the federal authority was restored at the hubs.

The statement also stated that global shipping and customs procedures would also be under Baghdad's control, stating that, "technical committees of the General Authority of Customs shall supervise the introduction, production, and handling of materials and equipment through the two airports after obtaining the official approvals from the competent authorities for local and foreign importers".

"This will depend on how long it takes for employees of the central government to start working in the airports", he said.

Abadi also said that a new security directorate will be established to protect the airports in the Kurdish region, and it will be under command and control of the federal Interior Ministry.

All the regional airports and border crossings will be linked directly to the main control system in Baghdad, similar to what is done in the other Iraqi airports and crossing, the statement said.

Aadhaar deadline extended by Supreme Court till final verdict on constitutional validity
The court has said that mandatory Aadhaar linking with bank accounts and mobile phones will stand extended indefinitely till then. The government had earlier told the Supreme Court that it might consider extending the March 31 deadline for linking Aadhaar.

Tensions flared up between the region and the central government in Baghdad after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a highly controversial plebiscite on secession on September 25 previous year.

The unconstitutional poll prompted Baghdad to impose a raft of punitive sanctions on the KRG, including a ban on global flights into and out of the Kurdish region.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil have remained tense since last September, when the KRG held an illegitimate referendum on regional independence.

The announcement comes six months after the airports were shut to global flights following a controversial referendum vote in northern Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region that was deemed illegal by Baghdad.


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