Thousands gathered in Dohuk (Dihok), the third-largest city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, on Tuesday, to voice their grievances over unpaid public sector salaries.
The protesters laid the blame for the delay in payments firmly on the federal government in Baghdad. Banners at the event read, “Kurdistan will not back down in the face of the hostile policies of the Iraqi authorities”, and “Solidarity with our people in Kirkuk!”
The protest comes against the backdrop of increasing tensions, particularly after violent clashes in Kirkuk on Saturday led to the deaths of four people.
Iraqi Kurdistan has long accused Baghdad of withholding funds necessary to pay public sector workers. Previously, the region had independent funding from oil exports, but this resource has been unavailable since the end of March due to disputes with Baghdad and Turkey. In a subsequent agreement, Baghdad pledged to allocate 12.6% of the federal budget to the Kurdistan Region in exchange for Kurdish oil sales passing through the federal government, and on Sunday, Baghdad released 500 billion dinars (about $380 million) earmarked for the region’s salaries. However the Kurdistan Regional Government states that nearly double that amount is needed monthly.