The Iraq-Kurdistan Issue

Barzani: Obama pledged to support Peshmarga , self-determination is continuous process to be achieved soon

  • Saturday, 09 May 2015 12:27

Shafaq News / The President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani announced on Saturday, that the US President , Barack Obama pledged to provide all possible support to Peshmarga forces,

pointing out that the self-determination and independence project is a natural right of the Kurdish people hoped to be achieved in the near future.

Barzani's remarks came during an interview with American CNN network, followed by Shafaq News, as he said that when he met Obama , Biden and other officials in the United States, he thanked them for their support and asked them to understand the suffering of the Kurdish people, pointing out that they understood well and pledged to support Kurds.

In response to a question about pledges to provide Kurds with greater quantities of arms , directly or indirectly? Because Peshmarga are fighting in the front lines against ISIS and do not have sophisticated weapons, Mr. Barzani responded by saying that Obama had a good information about Peshmarga, praised their role , pledged their support and sending arms to them.

About the way of weapons arrival to Kurdish forces , will it be directly or through Baghdad, Barzani noted to the Kurds desire and sending arms directly, but he also said that the most important thing is for Peshmarga to receive weapons.

On the strategy of eliminating ISIS terrorist organization, Barzani pointed out that the strategy of the war against "ISIS" is strengthening positions and expanded them in terms of arms, financial situation and combat ability.

Talking about the date of war liberation and the possibility of liberating Mosul, Barzani pointed out that the liberalization of Mosul is very important; stressing that there must be a good study and a deep plan and focused cooperation with Mosul's residents backed by Peshmarga.

He added that this battle will begin in the coming months, stressing that Peshmarga , the Iraqi army and the United States will be able to eliminate ISIS and end it.

Barzani said that Peshmarga will achieve victory, stressing that they have liberated more than 20 000 square kilometers of land from the control of "ISIS".

About the dream on independence and later achieve it whether this year or next year, Barzani replied that independence is a process and they began it and will continue with it, pointing out that it is a natural right of the Kurdish nation, adding he cannot set a date as to whether this will be achieved in the current or next year.

Barzani hoped independent to be in the near future.

President of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani is visiting the United States of America is on an official invitation from President , Obama and the US administration as held a series of meetings with senior officials and attended a number of research and strategic institutes , explaining the political and security situation in Iraq and the Middle East.,-self-determination-is-continuous-process-to-be-achieved-soon.html


Baghdad’s Revenue-Sharing Deal: Avoiding a Kurdish Split

Posted on 19 June 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Baghdad’s Revenue-Sharing Deal: Avoiding a Kurdish Split

By Ruth Lux, Managing Director of political risk consultancy Strategic Analysis.

The security situation in Iraq has significantly declined over the last week. Mosul and Tikrit fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an al-Qaeda off-shoot, and Tal Afar, in the Nineveh province, was seized on Monday.

Additionally, Baquba, only 37 miles from Baghdad, was briefly over-run by the militants. ISIS have engaged the Iraqi army in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces and reportedly now control up to 75% of the Baiji oil refinery, the largest in Iraq. This oil refinery is 210 km north of Baghdad and should the militants follow-through on their threat to cut off domestic oil supplies, an already fragile domestic situation will be exacerbated.

The Kurds have benefitted from this security vacuum and the Iraqi army’s inability to secure the country. They have moved their peshmerga forces into areas claimed to historically be part of Iraqi Kurdistan and are unlikely to withdraw. The presence of the peshmerga is undoubtedly securing oil-rich Kirkuk and the Mosul dam, which provides Baghdad with its water supply, however, some critics identify this move as opportunistic.

The deteriorating security environment in Iraq has also bolstered the Kurdish region’s position with regards to its’ revenue-sharing agreement with Baghdad. The Kurdish region has been eager to identify export routes for its crude oil and on 5th June Turkey and Kurdistan signed a 50 year oil export deal.  With Baghdad facing more pressing security concerns, the Kurdish region is unlikely to face the usual backlash entailed in acting without the authorisation of the federal government.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has actively sought export routes for its crude oil and its latest oil export deal with Turkey meets this objective. Kurdistan has proven oil reserves of 45 billion barrels, with production capacity quickly rising and expected to reach 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2015, compared to the current level of 400,000 bpd.

Until this year, oil exports from Kurdistan to Turkey occurred through road truck deliveries at a rate of 50,000 bpd. Construction was completed in late 2013 for a new pipeline linking the Kurdish Taq Taq field with Ceyhan port in Turkey. In November 2013 Turkey and Kurdistan solidified their relationship with an agreement which would allow the export of oil via this pipeline to Ceyhan port, commencing on 2 January. Baghdad and Erbil failed to reach a revenue-sharing agreement on this and on 23 May 2014 over 1.5 million barrels of oil was exported via tanker from Ceyhan port. This was followed by a second tanker on 10th June.

The agreement between Kurdistan and Turkey has been met with condemnation by the Iraqi government, which claims that all export deals must receive federal approval. The constitutional agreement between the federal government and the KRG details an 83:17 sharing of resources and national budget, however, articles 112 and 115 of the constitution state that the KRG has exclusive authority over oil and gas extracted in the region from fields that came into production after 2005.

The KRG claims that all of its current exports come from such fields. Nonetheless, on 23 May the Iraqi government requested an arbitration by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and seeks 250 million USD in financial damages. Recent tensions between Iraq and the KRG date back a number of months as Iraq has consistently paid approximately 10% instead of 17% of owed funds to the KRG.

Although the US, Israel, Germany, France and the Netherlands have all previously imported Kurdish oil, the internal dispute between Bagdad and Erbil has signified that neither of these tankers has been unloaded due to potential legal consequences. The dominant area of disagreement between Baghdad and Erbil rests in Kurdistan’s preference for Profit Sharing contracts with foreign oil companies, which allows them up to 20% of the profits versus Iraq’s preference for Service contracts, which only allow foreign companies 1% of the profits.

Middle East analyst, James Gavin, comments:

In its long-running stand-off with Baghdad, Kurdistan urgently needs to secure a viable export channel for its crude. Turkey’s willingness to load shipments of KRG-origin oil — the second shipment dispatched from Ceyhan port on 9th June — provides that outlet. The recent events in Iraq, with ISIS making sweeping gains, have left the Kurds in an even stronger position to dictate terms to prime minister Maliki.

“Yet the legality of the sales is still questioned, and a buyer has still not been found for the first tanker shipment. As yet, the Kurds have not found a long-term solution to their oil marketing problem — even if in the crude calculus of Erbil-Baghdad relations, the Kurds are much better placed after Maliki’s humiliation in Mosul”.

Pipeline exports to Turkey are being operated by Anglo-Turkish company Genel Energy and British Gulf Keystone Petroleum. Relations between the KRG and Ankara have steadily increased and the volume of trade between the two is approximately 8 billion USD, whilst three quarters of all Kurdish consumer goods come from Turkey.

The strengthening of business relations with Kurdistan has directly improved Turkey’s relationship with its own Kurdish population and assisted Turkey in its goal to reduce its reliance on energy imports from Iran and Russia. As the security situation worsens in Iraq, Ankara will undoubtedly become increasingly nervous as it considers how Turkey should support its ally.

James Gavin comments on Turkey’s energy needs:

“Diversifying its energy imports is an important issue for Ankara, and it has long seen the KRG as a strategic source of energy supply to Turkey. But the sanctioning of the dispatch of Kurdish crude in storage at Ceyhan does not necessarily play into this agenda; it is, though, a means for the Turkish government to apply pressure on Baghdad, and to give its Kurdish allies material support”.

The security situation in Iraq is extremely grave. Coupled with the humanitarian crisis now facing Kurdistan as over 300,000 refugees have fled there from Mosul, an emboldened Kurdistan is now in a position to negotiate improved terms with Baghdad on the revenue-sharing agreement of its oil exports. Given the important role its peshmerga troops are playing in securing crucial strongholds in Iraq together with the relative security Iraq’s citizens can hope for within its borders, the possibility of Kurdistan acting increasingly unilaterally regarding its crude oil exports is highly likely.

Whether this independence lays the ground-work for Kurdistan to pursue its ambition of becoming a sovereign state in the coming months remains to be seen.

Strategic Analysis’s researcher Plamena Solakova contributed to this article.


Kuwaiti political: Maliki announcement fear Barzani Kurdistan's independence after the fall of Assad

Author: Cairo - conscious 1 - 10:18:15 25/09/2012


Seeks to avoid overthrow through a tighter grip on Iraq in coordination with Iran

Asked the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the Kurdistan authorities in northern Iraq delivered Ibrahim Khalil border crossing in the region of Zakho, the main Iraqi crossing with Turkey, subject to its authority.

And learned "politics" from informed sources in the Maliki government that the latter received important signals from the party "PUK" headed by President Jalal Talabani to accept delivery crossing Haj Omran border between the province of Sulaymaniyah Kurdish subject to the influence of Talabani and Iran, which angered Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani.

After that, there were talks between the "Kurdistan Democratic Party" headed by Barzani and Talabani's party, where the two sides agreed on joint coordination in taking any step relating to the affairs of the region and to avoid taking measures unilaterally.

The sources said that al-Maliki is trying to take advantage of the absence of full unity between the two parts of Kurdistan, Sulaymaniyah subject to forces PUK and the provinces of Dohuk and Erbil, which are subject to Hezbollah forces Barzani, to impose new security reality in the region, revealing that the secret Maliki has moved to control the crossings Haj Omran with Iran and Abraham with Turkey, due to fears of the Barzani to declare the independence of Kurdistan and the establishment of an independent Kurdish state as soon as the collapse of the Syrian regime.

According to government sources Iraqi, the Barzani believes that the fall of Assad represents a setback great political influence and power-Maliki, and that he should take bold steps toward independence of Kurdistan, and the results of regional implications of the change in Syria would be encouraging to recognize some countries near Iraq state Kurdish nascent.

The sources expected to be Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the forefront of countries that will recognize the state Kurdish northern Iraq, in light of information that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave indicated a positive Barzani supported the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, and that the existence of such a state does not constitute any serious threat to the security of the Turkish national, and Barazani can be a reliable ally Kurdish to stop threats "PKK" rebel and put an end to this thorny security file for the Turkish state.

For his part, Pat Maliki convinced that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to the formation of a new map of the region, and that the establishment of a Kurdish state headed by Barzani would weaken Iran's influence in Iraq, especially if the latter succeeded in ensuring that the province of Sulaymaniyah in the confines of a "state of Kurdistan."

The sources revealed secret talks conducted close to Barzani, including his son Barzani happy, who heads the National Security Council of the Kurdistan region, with Kurdish leaders of PUK, and vice president of the region Rasool of the most prominent supporters line Barzani in this topic, is that front opposing directions latter remain strong and includes Talabani and his political rival Norhervan Mustafa Amin, who heads the "Movement for Change" in the city of Sulaymaniyah.

According to the same sources, Maliki advised Talabani personal choice away from Barzani to take over the succession in the leadership of the "National Union Party", and told him that Tehran believes that Rasool's assumption of the presidency of this party is in support of the orientations Barzani anti-owners and Iranian domination.

The sources revealed that al-Maliki's plan at some point after the Assad regime Tsttend to two vital things:

- The first is to gain control of the central government in Baghdad led by the Shiite alliance to fully Kurdistan and subjecting Barzani of the policies of this government, and this is important in order to ensure control of all border crossings between Iraq on the one hand and between Turkey and Syria on the other hand.

- Second concerned the control of al-Maliki on all borders between Sunni Arab provinces, particularly Nineveh and Anbar, with Syria and Jordan. This process is going successfully with the Baghdad government has already succeeded in sending troops from southern Iraq, mostly Shiite forces to these two provinces and imposed a near-absolute dominance on the border with Syria and Jordan.

The sources confirmed the Iraqi government said that the talks held by the President's National Security Council Iran Saeed Jalili with his Iraqi counterpart, Faleh al-Fayad in Baghdad and Tehran, during the past few months, touched on the post-Assad explicitly, which means that the two sides PATA convinced that the survival of Assad in power impossible and that change in Syria will fall at the end of the day, so the two officials discussed the so-called national security joint Iraqi - Iranian.

According to the sources, the hospitality and Jalili reached a working document for the next period include tightening grip security forces Maliki Sunni provinces, northern and western Iraq, which includes Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh and Diyala and Kirkuk, and Kurdish provinces of Kurdistan headed by Barzani, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk and the capital of Arbil, in With information that the new system in Syria would exacerbate conflict influence between Iran and Iraq on the one hand and between Turkey and Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the other hand, and that of the main dangers of this conflict end the rule of al-Maliki and the formation of a new political alliance with Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites are far from Iran to lead Iraqi political system.

In return, an agreement was reached, according to sources, between Turkey and the United States to undermine the Iranian influence in the period after the fall of the Assad regime, Washington also told Ankara that it supports political alliance with Barzani and president of a coalition of "Iraq" Iyad Allawi and Vice President sentenced to death Tareq al-Hashemi, and parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, because U.S. policy strongly supports any regional effort can eliminate the influence of Iran in Iraq.

The sources confirmed that Washington has sent clear messages to Ankara and Riyadh to the effect that the fall of Assad must lead to isolate Iran in the region, and cleanse the Iraqi arena of Iranian influence strategic development to achieve this goal.

Splitting Iraq: How Likely is an Independent Kurdistan?

Posted on 13 July 2012

Splitting Iraq: How Likely is an Independent Kurdistan?

By Shwan Zulal.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The disputes between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan have led some local politicians to call for the semi-autonomous region to secede from Iraq and become its own country. But, as one Kurdish commentator argues, this is far from realistic. Because now it’s all about money and oil, not politics.

Recently there has been a lot of comment about an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. As tensions between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous, northern state of Iraqi Kurdistan continue, the Kurdish have been playing the “independence card”, with local politicians and commentators airing their views on the subject like never before.

It is no secret that the majority of Kurds, if not in fact, all of them, would love to see an independent Kurdistan. And the easiest way for a Kurdish politician to become popular is to call for an independent state.

Although the Kurdish president, Massoud Barzani, has recently given the impression that he wants to see an independent Iraqi Kurdistan, the political party to which he belongs, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), and the other major political party in the area, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have so far resisted similar temptations. In fact, most Kurdish politicians are still talking about a “united Iraq” despite Kurdish public opinion against this idea.

And they have a point. If you are a Kurdish politician and you need to maintain diplomatic relations with your neighbours, and if you’re aware of the economic and political realities for Iraqi Kurdistan, then it’s very hard to call for Kurdish independence and really mean it.

It is possible that Iraqi Kurdistan is politically mature enough to be independent – but the region is not ready for such a step in economic or military terms. And it is true that, over time, the political consequences of Kurdish independence have always been considered greater than the economic consequences. But that no longer applies.

A clear example is the Kurdish rebellion against former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime in the early 1970s. When Hussein started to become friendly with the Soviet Union, then-US President Richard Nixon began to fund, and encourage, the Kurdish to fight for their independence against Hussein, as part of a strategy to weaken Hussein’s regime and general policy against the USSR. But just as the Kurdish revolutionaries seemed to be succeeding, it became clear that none of the parties supporting the Kurds actually wanted them to win their independence – the ploy was purely political – and support was withdrawn.

Additionally the question of Kurdish independence has always troubled the surrounding countries; none of them have ever wanted a Kurdish State.

But now, given Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil and gas potential and the benefits that could bring surrounding countries in terms of trade, those neighbours have softened their stand on Kurdish independence – and they’re likely to soften even further as trade ties develop.

There are also strong economic overtones to Baghdad’s policy toward Kurdish independence. Baghdad sees the various disputes over revenue sharing, oil contracts and oil exports currently going on between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan as necessary to its centralist agenda. Partially, it is about deterring other Iraqi regions, some of which have suggested the idea, from asking for independence to become a region with autonomy similar to that enjoyed by Iraqi Kurdistan.

Although, given the advanced stage of the oil industry in the Kurdistan region, Baghdad realises that their disputes with Iraqi Kurdistan are unlikely to end in their favour, they still have to send out a clear, centralist-flavoured message. Imagine, for example, if a province like Basra – which currently has most of the Iraqi oil reserves and which has the only access to ocean-going transport – achieved the same kind of independence Iraqi Kurdistan had. Given its strategic position, it might eventually become as powerful as the central government.

Even for the Kurdish themselves, the main question about an independent Kurdistan comes down to economics.

Up until now the economics of independence have always been an afterthought; even the Kurds have subconsciously ignored them. However in modern times, if the petro-dollars from Baghdad stopped flowing and people started to feel the pinch in their pockets, the idea of independence might not look so romantic after all.

This is the reality: Iraqi Kurdistan is land locked; it is dependent upon selling its own natural resources and importing consumables in exchange. Having bad, or no, relations with neighbouring countries is simply not an option for Iraqi Kurdistan.

And Iraqi Kurdistan has been operating like a state within a state, but without the duties of a state.

The Iraqis have continued to send 17 percent of the Iraqi federal budget to the Kurdish (although it was delayed this year). Most of the Iraqi federal budget is generated by oil revenues and currently, most of Iraq’s oil is produced in southern Iraq, in places like Basra. Any northern oil tends to come from the disputed Kirkuk region.

And with this, the federal budget is also swelling – so is Iraqi Kurdistan’s 17 percent share. However due to disagreements over oil policy, revenue sharing and Baghdad’s refusal to pay oil company costs, Iraqi Kurdistan is pursuing its own oil production agenda.

However in Iraqi Kurdistan, this sector is still largely underdeveloped. And, due to this and aforementioned disputes, the state is not contributing as much as it can to Iraq’s oil exports. Which is why many Iraqi politicians have already argued that the Kurdish are getting an unfairly large share of the country’s income even while they’re not contributing as much.

The most obvious move for the Kurdish would be to annex the disputed area of Kirkuk, where much of the northern oil is currently being produced, and get full use of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

The northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk has actually been one of the flash points of the struggle between the Iraqis and the Kurdish over the past few decades. During former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Kurdish population was driven out of Kirkuk so that Arab Iraqis could control the oil rich area. Today Kirkuk remains largely Kurdish and the government of Iraqi Kurdistan claims it belongs to them. Although legally it belongs to Baghdad, currently the city is, in fact, under the de-facto control of the Kurdish government.

Even in the unlikely scenario that such an annexation happens, in the short term Iraqi Kurdistan would still struggle to generate as much income as Baghdad sends them. Putting the required infrastructure into place would take time and would need the consent of neighbouring countries, like Turkey.

The economic consequences of losing the over US$11 billion that the Kurdish receive from Iraq would be devastating for the region; the whole economy could implode, which in turn would lead to many political and social problems.

Iraqi Kurdistan has other income streams and income opportunities and the promise of a hydrocarbon pipeline to Turkey offers a life line but in the short term, this income will not be enough to pay salaries in the bloated public sector or to invest in rebuilding the infrastructure, that would eventually lead to growth and an increase in oil and gas production.

In fact it’s disputable whether Kurdish oil production could ever match Baghdad’s current contribution. If Kirkuk and other disputed territories are taken out of the equation, then the amount of oil Iraqi Kurdistan could export may never match up to the 17 percent of the budget that they’re currently getting.

So although many Kurds yearn for independence, when the state’s finances dry up and there are budget cuts, unemployment and a reduction in living standards, those views may well change – and, whatever other faults they may have, almost all Kurdish politicians can see this how this would be extremely unpopular.

An independent Iraqi Kurdistan would not just lose its Baghdad budget, the state would also go from holding some part of the balance of power in the Iraqi parliament – the Kurdish bloc has been referred to as “kingmakers” because the two major opposition blocs have fairly equal numbers in Parliament – to being a small state, surrounded by far larger, far less friendly states in the area.

Should Iraqi Kurdistan secede, it is not even clear whether the international community would recognise the would-be country as a fully fledged nation-state.

In international terms, Kurdish independence would rely heavily on the Iraqi Kurdish relationship with Turkey. In fact, contrary to popular opinion in both Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, an independent Kurdistan could benefit Turkey immensely.

Despite historical antipathies (Turkey is still fighting a battle against the Kurdish population within its own borders), Turkey is the most likely nation to support the idea simply because then they would have greater influence over Iraqi Kurdistan – and Iraqi Kurdistan has the potential to become a future, cheap energy source fuelling the booming Turkish economy.

In conclusion, if it comes to a referendum on independence – something that President Barzani has suggested during ongoing disputes with Baghdad – Kurdish politicians would be caught between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, if they advocate independence, they face not only economic hardship but also regional isolation, a loss of influence in Iraq and increased dependence on the goodwill of both Turkey and Iran.

On the other hand, if they stay part of Iraq, then they must help to build the nation for real and find solutions to outstanding, contentious issues – such as the oil exports and the disputed territories like Kirkuk and Mosul.

Should they decide upon the latter for the time being– and this seems most likely and most sensible option– then Kurdistan can become more of an assertive regional player. Eventually this would give the region a better bargaining power when the statehood, that so many Kurdish long for has more potential to become a reality.

(Source: Niqash)