Iraq demands Turkey to end ‘illegal’ Kurdistan oil exports

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iraqi government spokesman
Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman of the Iraqi government talks to reporters during a press conference. Photo – Ali Abbas/EPA-POOL/Getty Images

An Iraqi government spokesman on Sunday demanded Turkey to stop ‘illegal’ transfers of crude oil from the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq or risk damaging bilateral ties.

His remarks come amid an Iraqi Kurdistan official’s statement in which he admitted that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has started pumping oil to Turkey without an explicit permission from Baghdad.

“Turkey must stop the unauthorised export of oil through its land,” Dabbagh said in an e-mailed statement. “Exporting oil from the Kurdistan region to Turkey is illegal.”

He alleged Ankara was contributing to the “smuggling of Iraqi oil” and warned that the matter will affect economic relations between the two countries.

“This oil and gas is the property of all Iraqis and it must be exported by, and its revenues go to, the federal government, which represents all Iraqis,” Dabbagh added.

KRG administration insists Baghdad has barred the dispatch of petroleum products to the northern region in response to the autonomous government’s decision to go ahead with oil exploration deals with foreign companies. The Iraqi oil ministry persistently denies the allegations.

Ties between Iraq and Turkey are facing difficulties since December, particularly over Turkey’s refusal to extradite Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is currently on trial in absentia on charges he ran a death squad.

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