News / Middle East

Turkish-Kurdish Oil Deals Upset Baghdad

Dorian Jones
ISTANBUL — Growing tensions between Baghdad and the semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdish government over control of the country's energy reserves is threatening to pull neighboring Turkey into the deepening dispute. This past weekend, Iraq warned Ankara that such trade with the region could damage its relations with the central government in Baghdad.

Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish regional government has started to send dozens of tankers of crude oil to neighboring Turkey. The shipments will be refined and sent back to the Kurdish enclave. Turkey said last week that it had begun importing five to 10 road tankers of crude a day from the northern region of Iraq and the volume could rise to 100-200 tankers per day.

This has angered the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who called on Ankara to immediately end the arrangement.

But Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based international relations research center Edam, thinks Baghdad will be disappointed

"No, I don't think Ankara will comply, essentially for two reasons: one, relationship between Maliki government is quite problematic. Turkey accuses Maliki of trying to grab power. So Ankara does not feel any sort of need to please the Maliki government; secondly Ankara does not want to take a step that would endanger the position of the Kurdish regional government in its own dealing with Baghdad," Ulgen said.

The Kurds and the Arab-led government in Baghdad have been arguing over the right to develop and export the north's natural resources. Baghdad says the region has no right to sign deals unilaterally and that exports must go through the state-run pipelines. Kurds argue that the constitution gives them the right to sign agreements without consulting Baghdad.

Felah Mustafa Bakir is the head of foreign relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government.

"We have done nothing in violation of the Iraqi Constitution. We have respected the Iraqi Constitution and we want to help the people. We have been able to develop sector. We have been able to produce oil for 175,000 barrels a day, that we did not have single barrel in the past," Bakir said.

Despite the controversy, Iraqi Kurds have been signing contracts with international oil companies, including U.S. oil giant Exxon.

Michael Howard is an adviser to the Iraqi Kurdish energy ministry. He says the Kurdish regional government realizes the potential in selling to Turkey.

"Turkey is a growing economy at the moment, it aims to be one of top 10 economies within 10 years. They don't have a great deal of energy themselves. So they will be looking around at their neighbors for their energy security. But also Turkey could be a major a transit route," Howard said.
 
For years, Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan have been trying to hammer out a solution by passing a so-called hydrocarbon law.  Baghdad believes petroleum policy should be set at the federal level and comply with its interpretation of the constitution. Irbil, in contrast, wants to be able to award production contracts and plan export pipelines on its own terms.

Political observers say there is little hope of a solution.

Ulgen said irrespective of whether a new law is passed, Ankara is already eyeing Iraqi Kurds' energy as a vital source.

"I would expect Turkey would continue to buy oil even if the hydrocarbon law issue is not resolved. In the long run Turkey is looking at the opportunities in northern Iraq in order to allay some of its concerns over energy imports. So from that perspective in the medium and long term it will provide an alternative to Turkey's dependency on Iran," Ulgen said.

Ankara has been cutting its energy imports from neighboring Iran to comply with international sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.  That, analysts say, has given added impetus to its growing economic and political ties with its Iraqi Kurdish neighbors, despite what Baghdad says.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 17, 2012 7:41 AM
Maybe Turkey is acting in good faith, at least to bypass Iran, but is Kurdistan a free state or is it a sub under Iraq? Does Iraq have the kind of federal constitution to enable it deal independently with Turkey and other countries? Is Turkey just being a bully to Iraq because of its weakened political situation and the fight with Taliban and al qaeda so as to properly assume regional power? Can someone please explain what is happening out there, please.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More