News / Middle East

Iraq Seeks Arbitration in Dispute With Turkey over Kurdish Oil Sale

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, speaks as his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari, listens during a joint press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, left, speaks as his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari, listens during a joint press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013
Dorian Jones
Baghdad has requested legal arbitration in a dispute with Turkey over the sale of Iraqi Kurdish oil. The move comes after the first super tanker of Iraqi Kurdish oil departed from Turkey, despite warnings and threats from Baghdad to not go ahead with the sale. Analysts say the move raises the stakes again in a long-running game of political brinkmanship as Baghdad seeks to thwart Kurdistan's moves towards greater self-sufficiency.

After months of delay and in the face of international warnings, Ankara sold one million barrels of oil piped from the neighboring semi autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

The sale to an unspecified buyer was made without the consent of the central government in Baghdad. Baghdad had repeatedly warned Ankara any such sale would be illegal.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University says the sale will further strain bilateral relations.
 
"Relations are already mainly in tatters. The much promised meetings between Maliki and Erdogan, or reciprocal visits, never really took place. It's just part of the ongoing process of bad relations. But obviously there is no petty defiant act on the part of Turkey and that may change the situation qualitatively," said Ozel.

When Turkey's energy minister Taner Yildiz announced the oil sale, he said it was the first of many. Ankara backs the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional government's claim that it has the constitutional right to sell independently newly found energy reserves.

Ankara has said that the proceeds of any such oil sales will be divided between the KRG and Baghdad, in compliance with the Iraqi Constitution. But on Friday, Iraq's Oil Ministry filed a request for arbitration with the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce.  

Analysts say the KRG is urgently in need of money following Baghdad's decision to cut its budget to punish it for building a pipeline to Turkey. But Sinan Ulgen of the Brussels Carnegie Institution says the dispute ultimately is more about power than money.

"The balance of power between central government and KRG will be affected by that. The KRG will be able to export its oil and gas without every time needing the green light from Baghdad. That will enhance their economic security and that will change the balance of power," said Ulgen.

Concerns about Iraq's territorial integrity have resulted in Washington strongly backing Baghdad and criticizing Ankara over the sale.  State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. does not support any export without the permission of the federal government of Iraq and warned it has concerns about the impact of such sales.

But international relations expert Ozel says Ankara is flexing its regional diplomatic muscles in a bid to secure an important strategic goal.
 
"Ankara wants to have its way and wants to prove it can have its way. That is number one. Number two, it's very important for Ankara to become a gas and oil and hub and if it cannot do it legally, I think it wants to do it through fait accompli."

But analyst Ulgen claims Baghdad is unlikely to give up without a struggle.

"Baghdad also fears that other regions in Iraq that will follow the same example like Basra and therefore they don't want to set a precedent that in time would weaken the central control over the rest of Iraq's territory."

Until now, Turkey promised it would hold off selling KRG oil until an agreement was reached with Baghdad. Observers claim the timing of Ankara's move could well be connected to the fact that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki is struggling to form a new government.

With any legal challenge to the oil sale predicted to take months if not years, analysts say both the governments of Turkey and the KRG will likely be banking on the fact that the reality on the ground will by then trump any protracted legal challenge.
.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Azad Dewani from: United Kingdom
May 28, 2014 4:43 AM
The US administration is better to consider two facts: (1). All oil revenue in the hand of central government will lead to another dictatorship and another Saddam. The Kurdish people not only the government want strong relations with the US. Kurds prove this during the 2003 war on Iraq and previously. (2). Free exporting of the promising Kurdish oil and gas towards Europe is an advanced step to bypass the unstable Gulf route infected by Jihadist anti-Western disease!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs