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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid