Baghdad extends flight ban on Kurdistan's airports until end of May

Baghdad extends flight ban on Kurdistan's airports until end of May

(Kurdistan 24) - The Iraqi Federal Government has extended the international flight ban on the Kurdistan Region's airports until May 31, an official told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.

Baghdad imposed an international flight ban on both the Erbil and Sulaimani airports on Sep. 29, 2017, days after the historic Kurdish independence referendum, which saw overwhelming majority favoring statehood.

In a statement to Kurdistan 24, the Director-General of Erbil International Airport (EIA) Talar Fayeq confirmed the three-month extension, which should come into effect after Feb. 28, the most recent deadline given by Baghdad.

The embargo has greatly affected the semi-autonomous region’s economy, forcing many foreign and local companies to close their offices and operations, with hundreds losing their jobs.

The Iraqi federal government imposed a number of sanctions and collective punishments on the Kurdistan Region in retaliation to the vote, including the international flight ban and taking over the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other disputed territories, which were under the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga since 2014.

Over the past few months, people in the Kurdistan Region have repeatedly protested against the sanctions of the Iraqi government, including the recent demonstrations by the wounded Peshmerga and patients in front of the UN compound in Erbil, calling the international community to pressure Baghdad to lift the sanctions.