News / Middle East

Baghdad Legally Challenges Oil Exports from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz (L) and his Iraqi Kurdish counterpart Ashti Hawrami hold a press conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Dec. 2, 2013.
Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz (L) and his Iraqi Kurdish counterpart Ashti Hawrami hold a press conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Dec. 2, 2013.
Dorian Jones
With oil now flowing from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey after the two sides signed a groundbreaking agreement late last year, Baghdad is mounting an international legal challenge to the deal.

In a deepening row over control of Iraq’s energy, Baghdad has announced it is employing an international law firm to block the sale of oil piped from semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey. Last year, Ankara signed a wide-ranging energy agreement with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, and last December, oil from the region started flowing through a newly-constructed pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

But Iraq's central government insisted only it had the right to sign agreements on exporting energy. Dr. Emre Iseri, an energy politics expert at Izmir’s Yasar University, said the legal challenge posed a threat to the agreement.

"It’s a problem. You are talking about international law, it's about legitimacy.  If you act against international law, that means your maneuvering space is limited," he said.

Ankara has steadfastly defended its deal with the Iraqi Kurds, saying it complies with Iraq’s constitution. The Turkish government has been working hard to bring Baghdad into the deal.

But Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, said Baghdad's decision to mount an international legal challenge underlined its concerns about the oil agreement.

"That would change the balance between the KRG and Baghdad. Baghdad also fears that other regions in Iraq will follow the same example -- like Basra. Therefore they don’t want to set a precedent that in time would weaken the central control over the rest of Iraq’s territory," said Ulgen.

According to Iseri, the Iraqi government was not alone in having concerns over the energy deal. He said Baghdad’s decision to mount a legal challenge was made in the knowledge that it had strong international support.

"More or less, the U.S. and Iranian positions are similar in the Iraqi case. The United States would like to see a unified Iraq, and also from the perspective of Iran, that would not like see a disintegrated Iraq  ... And also Russia would not like to see alternative oil and natural gas sources in the market," said Iseri.

For Ankara, the energy deal with Iraqi Kurdistan has been an economic priority. With little energy reserves of its own, the Turkish government saw the deal as diversifying the country's energy sources as well as expanding trade, said Ulgen.

"The Turkish government will decide to push [forward] with the deal because it’s a deal of critical importance to Turkey, given Turkey’s quest for more energy resources and also the concessions that were granted to Turkish companies in the region. So there is lot of political capital attached to this deal as well," he said.

The Iraqi Kurdish region is already estimated to be Turkey’s second largest trading partner. Ultimately, international lawyers and judges could decide the fate of Ankara's energy deal with Iraqi Kurdistan. Observers said Ankara was likely to respect any legal ruling, but will be hoping that during the protracted legal process, a three-way deal between Erbil, Baghdad and itself can ultimately hammered out.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid