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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs