Oil from Kurdistan causing rift

Crisis between Iraq and Turkey

GMT 15:54 2012 Tuesday ,17 July

Arab Today, arab today Crisis between Iraq and Turkey

Turkish oil tankers on border between Kurdistan and Turkey
Baghdad - Jaafar Nassrawi

Turkish oil tankers on border between Kurdistan and Turkey Baghdad - Jaafar Nassrawi The Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz announced that his country has begun importing between 5 to 10 trucks of crude oil per day from Iraq's Kurdistan region,  with the aim of raising that number to between 100 and 200 trucks per day. The Iraqi government believes this is tantamount to Turkey interfering in Iraq's internal affairs and taking advantage of the problems between the Kurdistan autonomous region and Iraq. The office of Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy, Hussein al-Shahristani, confirmed that Turkey's decision to import crude oil from Kurdistan would harm the economic relations between the two countries. He claimed that Kurdistan did not pass the crude oil through the channels of the federal government which has meant that Iraq lost 8.5 billion dollars over the past days. Spokesman for the Iraqi government, Ali al-Dabbagh, also asserted his country's refusal to allow Turkey to become embroiled in the internal affairs of Iraq. Ali al-Dabbagh, speaking to Arabstoday said that the oil and gas "are the property of  all Iraqis and must be exported through the resources of the federal government which represents all citizens" urging Turkey to stop exporting unauthorised oil through its territory. Al-Dabbagh described the export of oil from Kurdistan to Turkey as  "illegitimate and illegal", adding:  "Turkey is contributing towards the smuggling of Iraqi oil." "Turkey's position will affect the relations between our two countries, especially the economic aspect," Al Dabbagh continued, adding:: "the Iraqi government will not allow Turkey to manipulate our Constitution as it likes. We have disagreements on the subject of oil and its contracts with the Kurdistan region and this is an Iraqi issue to be dealt with internally. Turkey should not intervene and involve itself in this dispute. This is not the attitude of a country with which we are seeking to have good relations." Dabbagh pointed out that Turkey and its officials chose not to deal with the federal government which has full sovereignty in foreign dealings and this action is illegal. He continued: "Turkey is taking wrong steps. Would the state Turkey allow a sovereign dealing with a level lower than the central government of Turkey?" The Turkish Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz, announced on Friday (13 July) that Turkey begins to import between 5 to 10 crude trucks per day from northern Iraq, indicating that these quantities may increase between 100 to 200 trucks per day. He referred that Turkey is holding talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq on direct sales of natural gas to Turkey. For his part, the leader of the Kurdistan Alliance, Mahmoud Osman, told Arabstoday that the oil's region are not smuggled into Turkey and Iran, but officially transferred, pointing out that this comes in response to reducing the region's share of fuel by the federal government. The Iraqi Oil Ministry had signed in September 2010 an agreement with the Turkish Energy Ministry on not allowing exporting crude oil or natural gas to Europe via Nabucco pipeline without the consent of the central government in Baghdad. The agreement stated that any export of Iraqi oil and gas which is transported through Turkish territory must have the approval of the Central Government and that any agreement outside this framework will be considered as unreliable and unauthorised. Relations between Maliki government and Ankara began to get worse after the parliamentary elections that took place on March 7 in 2010 and Turkey was accused of supporting the Iraqi List coalition led by Iyad Allawi, who is a great enemy of Maliki. This crisis was renewed last year following a statement by the Turkish Prime Minister Ragab Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone conversation with US Vice President Joe Biden expressing his concern over the political crisis between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq and warned that it may lead to a growing threat of sectarian war as well as talking about "the prevailing authoritarianism" in the country. The arrest warrant issued against Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of "terrorism" caused an outbreak of a new crisis between the two parties, as Erdogan called Maliki on January 10 in 2012 to take an action to contain the tension of Hashemi's issue and ensure his trial away from any political pressures. The crisis developed to reach its peak after Erdogan accused Maliki on January 24 of seeking to cause a sectarian conflict in Iraq and warned that Ankara will not remain silent in case Baghdad took this step, while Maliki considered The Turkish comments as provocative to all Iraqis, stressing his refusal to intervene in the internal affairs of Iraq. The Turkish Embassy in Baghdad was bombed on January 18 in 2012 by Katyusha rockets.  Two days later, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the attack, believing that it intended to damage bilateral relations, stressing that it will not be affected. Iraqi-Turkish borders  have been witnessing  since 2007 artillery attacks and Turkish war planes raids under the pretext of striking members of Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) which exist in these areas for more than 25 years. The party implemented military operations within the Turkish territory against the Turkish army, most recently on February 9 in 2012 and killed 43 Turkish soldiers during targeting ten military sites within the territory of Turkey. The party also carried out numerous attacks on oil pipeline connecting the northern Kirkuk field and Turkish port of Ceyhan, most recently on April 4 in 2012.

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