News / Middle East

Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oili
X
Jeffrey Young
July 20, 2014 8:54 PM
The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong.

Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, has fabulous oil wealth. It is an ethnically divided city. For years, Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen factions fought each other. Then, insurgents including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - or ISIL - unleased their terror.

In June, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga troops, reputed to be some of the toughest fighters in this region, moved into Kirkuk to restore stability, and to protect the oil beneath it.

A monument in Kirkuk, a well-head surrounded by swords, is highly symbolic of both the value of the province’s oil, as well as the fight to control it.

Peshmerga member Mohamed Swani explains that Kirkuk’s oil now belongs to Kurds, not Baghdad, which objects to the takeover.

“Now, this place is Kurdistan. The oil is for Kurdistan. We must keep the oil, and the defense of the land, for all the places in Kurdistan.”

This reporter went out with the Peshmerga on a security patrol, to see how they keep the city and province safe, as well as the oil the Kurds want for their hoped-for independent state.

We left the military compound and pulled out into the street, our vehicle packed with troops, guns always at the ready.

The ride can be wild and bumpy, but the message put out by every Peshmerga patrol is clear - order will be kept, and those who challenge it face the barrels of many guns.

Since these Peshmerga patrols began in June, Kirkuk has enjoyed more peace than at any time in the past decade. While this patrol covers the city, other Peshmerga units have been out in the province driving out ISIL and other insurgents.

Some Iraqi government troops dropped their guns and ran when ISIL swept into Iraq, but the Peshmerga did the opposite - they engaged ISIL, known as Dash - and drove them out. Peshmerga Kamal Mohamed Mustapha explained.

“You know, Dash came - to try to control Kirkuk. But when we heard about Dash trying to do that, we came over to Kirkuk, and took Kirkuk from them. We kicked them out of Kirkuk now,” said Mustapha.

The Kirkuk oil field and its pipeline, and oil patch, Bai Hassan, are under Kurdish control.  Their pipelines are now rerouted to send the oil north and on to Turkey, to the port of Ceyhan.

Iraq’s central government has angrily reacted to the KRG’s takeover of Kirkuk and these oil fields. But the Kurds have made it clear that they will not give them back to Baghdad. This oil, as Kamal Mohamed Mustapha says, guarantees the viability of an independent Kurdistan.

“This oil is the future of Kurdistan, so if there is no oil, there is no future,” says Mustapha.

The Peshmerga say that if Baghdad wants to take Kirkuk back by force, they are ready to fight.


Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: sam from: us
July 21, 2014 11:02 PM
kirkuk is belong to kurdish of course the going to keep it.

by: tedD from: usa
July 21, 2014 10:25 PM
Russia and China will veto a Kurdish state.

by: Tracy Ultican from: Minnesota
July 21, 2014 10:15 AM
I have read about the Kurds for a number of years. These people started as a organized rebel group during Sadam's regime and have fought the Turks. If we go back farther in History they once ruled the area they now have during the Automn Empire. The Kurds will prevail in this area and if the USA is smart they will side with them. They are more pluraistic than Bagdad, enjoy democracy and are fairly forward thinking when it comes to women's rights.

by: redmanrt from: Jacksonville, FL
July 21, 2014 8:44 AM
Mosul is next.

by: Anonymous
July 21, 2014 6:23 AM
Do you think ISIS can challenge 500K syrian Army and Iraq's government but not the Kurdish regions? Conspiracy theories about Kurds and ISIS cooperating is correct. The mutual aim is to disintegrate Iraq.
In Response

by: Jeffrey Young from: Back in Washington
July 25, 2014 7:47 PM
Anonymous: Your "conspiracy theory" about ISIS (ISIL) and the Kurds cooperating "to disintegrate Iraq" holds not a drop of water. I was with Peshmerga forces which engaged and killed Dash (ISIL) that they engaged. Pehmerga liquidate Dash. Watch the video embedded in this piece. Why do you post such things? So that someone might believe it? I have lived in the ME for a long time. I know what you are.

by: Free Man
July 21, 2014 3:59 AM
Good for the Kurds. Kirkuk was historically Kurdish until Saddam Hussein force populated it with Arabs to gain influence there. I wish the Kurds all success in their independence.

by: Anonymous
July 21, 2014 3:55 AM
Seems like the Kurds on the only entity in Iraq that have their stuff together. They should keep Kirkuk,
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 21, 2014 6:23 AM
Don't believe what ever you see. Look deeper.

by: James from: St. Paul MN
July 20, 2014 9:21 PM
Nothing like writing an article on month old news as if was new. What did you do copy and paste articles from june because you where in a hurry.
In Response

by: Jeffrey Young from: Back in DC from Iraq
July 25, 2014 7:53 PM
Excuse me, sir. I was live, on the scene, producing my pieces from the video I was shooting as it was happening. The statements given to me were made on Wednesday, June 16 - the day I went out on the Kirkuk security patrol with the Peshmerga. "Copy and paste articles?" You have no position or point here. Regards.

by: US
July 20, 2014 8:31 PM
"The Peshmerga say that if Baghdad wants to take Kirkuk back by force, they are ready to fight."
So the truth comes out, ISIS is viewed by Kurds as liberators.
In Response

by: Jeffrey Young from: Back in DC from Iraq
July 25, 2014 8:02 PM
"So the truth comes out, ISIS is viewed by Kurds as liberators." Not hardly, sir. I know firsthand, as this article and video confirm. The Kurdish Peshmerga is hunting down and killing Dash (ISIL) so that the entire province (Governate) is secure. I was not involved in a live fire engagement with Dash, but I did come up on a combat scene about 18 hours old. It was rather clear that the Peshmerga liquidated the insurgents. The oil beneath the ground in Kirkuk is the future of an independent Kurdistan. What I said in my piece is true: the Kurdish Peshmerga will fight the Iraqi army fiercely if Baghdad moves to try to retake Kirkuk from the KRG. But to suggest that Kurds are pleased that Dash severed a large piece of Sunni Iraq is something I cannot support. Regards.
In Response

by: NA from: NA
July 21, 2014 1:38 AM
wrong ..it was an opportunity for them to gain independence in the face that their own govt were cowards....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs