Monday, December 16, 2013

Kurdistan, An Emerging Oil Power

By Namo Abdulla - for Rudaw

 Washington, D.C. - Once an isolated, poverty- and war-stricken region of Iraq, Kurdistan has emerged as an influential oil power in the Middle East over the past few years.

Shortly after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, international oil companies including giants such as Exxon-Mobil, Total and Chevron arrived in this small autonomous region to exploit its abundant natural resources.

Last week, Kurdistan attracted more global attention from politicians and businessmen alike after Turkey agreed to enter a multi-billion oil and gas deal with it.

But there’s one problem: Kurdistan’s aggressive pursuit of an independent oil policy has infuriated Iraq’s central government in Baghdad, which considers all of the region’s hydrocarbon deals illegal.

Baghdad says it retains the sole authority over the country’s oil industry, and fears that independent moves by Kurdistan would end up in the demise of the country as a unified entity.

Kurdistan rejects that claim saying that its oil policy benefits the whole of Iraq since the revenues will eventually be redistributed to all Iraqis.

What is the U.S.’s stance toward Kurdistan’s oil policy? Does it share Baghdad’s fears that Kurdistan’s increasingly independent economy leads to the emergence of an independent Kurdish state? Joining me to discuss this subject is:

- Joshua Walker, a writer who has recently written an extensive report on Turkey-KRG relations. He’s also the president of Global Programs at APCO Worldwide.

- Omer Zarpli, a Turkish expert at the Century Foundation in Washington, D.C. 

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