For First Time, Baghdad Backs Erbil-Ankara Energy Deal
By RUDAW 20 hours ago
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – For the first time, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein Shahristani backed an oil deal between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey, but cautioned that Baghdad must not be kept on the margins of any energy deals made by the autonomous Kurds.
“We support and seek to increase our oil and future natural gas exports to Turkey,” al-Shahristani told the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
On Friday, a government official in Erbil told Rudaw that direct oil exports to Turkey had begun via a newly-extended pipeline.
Last month, Baghdad had stepped in to try and block the deal, leading to a flurry of Turkish and Kurdish diplomacy that presumably ensured Baghdad would get its constitutional lion’s share of the revenues from the sales.
Shahristani said that the central government’s conditions for energy exports by Erbil are: The quantities of Iraqi oil exported to Turkey must be known to the central government; oil must be sold at international market prices; and revenues from the sales must be channeled to the account of the Iraq Development Fund in New York, in line with previous UN Security Council resolutions.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s Shiite parties have been divided about the exports by Erbil, and the Sunnis have so far taken no position on the matter.
Hussein al-Khafaji, MP for the Al-Ahrar Trend led by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, viewed the Kurdish oil exports as “legal and constitutional.”
“Kurdistan has the right not just to benefit from oil, but from all its natural resources, and has the right to export them,” he told Rudaw.
Bahadin Hadi, MP of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (ISCI) and a member of the Iraqi parliament’s oil and gas committee, earlier complained that the committee had not been informed about the details of the Erbil-Ankara deal.
Meanwhile, Hamid Abid Mutlaq, a Sunni MP from the al-Iraqiya list that is headed by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, said that Baghdad and Erbil should work out their differences over energy agreements by the Kurds.
“Oil exports should be done in agreement with Baghdad, but the central government should respect the choice of the Kurdistan Region and the other governorates,” said Mutlaq.
Until now, Baghdad has been furious at the Kurdistan Region’s energy deals with international oil companies and Turkey. Baghdad and Erbil have remained at odds over management of natural resources in the Kurdish regions.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s State of law list warned that if Erbil and Baghdad continue to bicker on energy deals, it will have an adverse effect on Iraq’s other governorates.
“None of the parties should provoke the other,” said Ali Shalla, a State of Law MP, adding that if the issue remains unresolved it would open the door for Iraq’s other governorates to begin their own oil exports, circumnavigating the central government in Baghdad.