Iraq’s parliament at long last passed the country’s controversial 2013 budget, as MEES went to press. Against all expectations, and after repeated efforts, Iraqi law makers managed to get the necessary quorum to pass the long-stalled budget, despite the lack of any Kurdish deputies. The budget allocates only ID750bn ($645mn) for the Kurds to pay the oil investors for their costs, which is less than a fifth of the ID4 trillion ($3.5bn) the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been demanding.

The budget, backed by Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, the arch opponent of the Kurds, envisages expenditure of ID138 trillion ($119bn) and is based on average 2013 oil exports of 2.9mn b/d at an average price of $90/B. Last year, Iraq exported 2.422mn b/d at an average price of $106.21/B. The passage of this budget throws a gauntlet down to the Kurds and could exacerbate Iraq’s current political crisis. The country’s Finance Minister, Rafi’ al-‘Issawi, an opponent of Mr Maliki, announced his resignation on 1 March. (CONTINUED - 766 WORDS)