Monday, May 26, 2014

Iraqi Kurds slam Baghdad legal action over oil shipment

Iraq's Kurdish region slammed legal action filed by the central government against Turkey, saying Sunday it was illegitimate and likely to fail, the latest in worsening ties between Baghdad and Kurdistan.
The Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources statement came just days after Baghdad's Oil Ministry filed a request for arbitration against Ankara at the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce after crude from Kurdistan was exported to international markets via a Turkish port.

Relations between Iraq and its Kurdish region, and between Baghdad and Ankara, were already fragile and are likely to chill further over the row, with the latest shipments flying in the face of the Iraqi government's insistence that it has the sole right to sell its prized natural resources.

"The MOO (Ministry of Oil) is, with its behaviour, isolating itself ... (and) potentially damaging Iraq's petroleum industry and Iraq's petroleum reserves," the ministry statement said.

"The MOO is also ... now prepared to damage Iraq's relations with Turkey and other friends of Iraq."
The statement labelled the arbitration request "self-defeating" and "illegitimate", saying it would "not allow hollow threats from the MOO to interfere with the KRG's (Kurdistan Regional Government's) oil export regime."

The dispute between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in Arbil centres around interpretations of Iraq's constitution, with both sides insisting they are behaving legally.

The central government insists it has the sole right to export Iraqi crude, describes Kurdish sales as "smuggling" and also says contracts between Arbil and foreign energy firms without its expressed consent are illegal.

But the row took on a new dimension after Turkey confirmed shipments of oil pumped from the autonomous northern Iraqi region and stored in Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan began on Thursday.............[]


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