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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid