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

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora