Turkey driven by 'greed' in Kurdish oil row: Iraqi deputy PM

In this May 31, 2009 file photo, employees work at the Tawke oil field in the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. AP Photo

Baghdad vents its fury at Ankara for its role in exporting Kurdish oil to the world amid KRG threats to secede from the rest of Iraq Turkey has been “driven by greed” in an escalating row over oil pumped from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and shipped overseas, Baghdad’s top energy official has said, after northern Iraqi leader Masoud Barzani reportedly threatened to consider self-rule.

The remarks by Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs, represent a significant ratcheting up of rhetoric after Baghdad took legal action against Ankara in a widening dispute over Iraq’s prized natural resources.

The shipping of oil extracted from the three-province Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) last month has chilled ties both between Baghdad and Ankara, and between the central government and Kurdish authorities in Arbil.

“We believe Turkey has been driven by greed to try to lay [its] hands on cheap Iraqi oil,” al-Shahristani, a former oil minister, said in an interview.

“They have facilitated this smuggling, and obviously this has undermined the relationship” between the two countries.

Speaking from his office in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, he said, “We had reached a fairly good level of cooperation before Turkey’s greed has taken over and allowed itself to help in smuggling Iraqi crude.”       

Al-Shahristani’s remarks came a day after the release of a statement on the KRG’s website that quoted Barzani as saying the energy-rich northern region might resort to a referendum to decide its fate.

Barzani said his people “cannot wait another 10 years for...

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