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

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.