Ankara brushes off Iraq’s Kurdish oil claims

Photo:  Ankara brushes off Iraq’s Kurdish oil claims  / Arab World

Turkey has insisted that the export of Kurdish Iraqi oil to the world is Iraq's internal business, downplaying opposition from Baghdad, which has accused Turkey of worsening the row over who controls Iraq's resources Hurriyet Daily News reported.

"The income to be generated from here [exports] will be distributed with a system that our Iraqi brothers established by themselves," Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said June 2, answering reporters' questions after a meeting in Ankara.

"Therefore, I don't find it right to say things to Turkey that cannot be told to anybody else," the minister said, when asked about his comments over the issue.

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

The cargo of Kurdish oil left Turkey 10 days ago aboard a United Leadership tanker, prompting Baghdad to file for international arbitration against Ankara for facilitating the sale.

Iraq says its State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) has exclusive rights to manage sales of crude from the entire country, including Kurdistan, and considers unilateral exports from the region as "smuggling."

However, in his remarks yesterday, Yildiz insisted Turkey "will preserve its positive attitude over the process."

"Think the exact opposite: Would it be better for Iraq if Turkey wasn't letting Iraqi oil to flow through it? It wouldn't. We are a neighbor, friend and fraternal country that is laying the basis for the transmission of Iraqi oil to world markets," he said.

"This oil is not Turkey's, it is Iraq's, and the income to be yielded from here will be Iraq's income," he said.

Yildiz's remarks came a day after Baghdad accused Turkey of being "driven by greed."

"We believe Turkey has been driven by greed to try to lay [its] hands on cheap Iraqi oil," said Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs

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