News / Middle East

Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan Seal 50-Year Energy Deal

FILE - Kurdistan Regional Government Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami, right, shakes hands with Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, Irbil, Iraq, May 2012.
FILE - Kurdistan Regional Government Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami, right, shakes hands with Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, Irbil, Iraq, May 2012.
Dorian Jones
Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq on Wednesday announced the signing of a 50-year deal to export Kurdish oil to the north.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani unveiled the deal during a speech to Iraqi Kurdistan's parliament in Irbil, capital of the Kurdish-dominated region in northern Iraq.

The agreement comes amid growing international criticism over the deepening relationship between Iraq's Kurdish region and Turkey — a relationship that bypasses Iraq's central government, straining Baghdad's relations with Irbil and Ankara.

In the opinion of Emre Iseri, a political scientist and energy expert at Turkey's Yasar University in Izmir, Iraq's energy-rich Kurdish region and energy-hungry Turkey are a perfect match.

"Turkey would like to become a regional energy hub, and so Turkey would like to diversify away from Russia and Iran," he said. "It also is thinking about its current account deficit and thinks that it can acquire cheaper oil and natural gas prices from Iraqi Kurdistan."

But Baghdad officials insist only Iraq's central government has the right to export Iraqi crude. Baghdad recently announced plans to take legal action against Ankara at the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration in Paris. Iraqi officials have said any contracts between Kurdish authorities and foreign energy firms violate Iraq's constitution and are illegal unless formally sanctioned by Baghdad.

While Irbil rejects that position, Ankara has been trying to placate Baghdad for months. According to Soli Ozel, political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Haberturk, Ankara's efforts have largely failed.

"Baghdad protests it and [is] going to court about this," he said. "Obviously they have not looked favorably [on] such transactions and have not changed their minds about it. And the Americans registered their discontent, but that’s where we stand now."

Washington has repeatedly voiced criticism of Ankara’s direct dealings with Irbil, warning it could threaten Iraq's territorial integrity, a position rejected by both Irbil and Ankara. 

Some analysts say the KRG is in urgent need of funds from energy sales because Baghdad cut funding to the Kurdish region over its unilateral dealings with Ankara. 

With Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki still struggling to form a government following general elections, analysts say Irbil and Ankara could be seeking to exploit the prevailing political instability. However, some say the formation of a new government in Baghdad could lead to greater pressure on both Irbil and Ankara over their deepening energy cooperation.

"The northern Iraqi line seems to be a secure and reliable line at the moment," said Semih Idiz, diplomatic columnist for Al Monitor and the Turkish newspaper Taraf. Whatever the political climate, Idiz says, there will be no turning back.

"[The deal] ties in with other factors [that are related to] Turkey’s own Kurdish problems," he said, explaining the agreement is also a result of regional volatility and strained ties between Baghdad and Ankara. "There [are] political reasons, strategic reasons and also economic reasons for this. And Turkey has been steadily pushing forward with this project, [which indicates] that it is more or less a done deal."
 
The first batch of Kurdish oil, with an estimated market value of $110 million, was transported through Turkey on May 23. Turkey and the KRG have said the flow of Kurdish oil to international markets will continue despite Iraq's legal efforts to stop it.

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

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
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.

VOA Blogs