Erdoğan approved negotiation with Kurdistan Regional Government on energy deal

JTW – 31.3.2013 – Even though the United States and the central government of Iraq have objections concerning an energy deal between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), it seems that Turkish Prime Minister is out to sign a major energy deal with Iraq’s KRG and carry bilateral relations one step further.

Turkish authorities are currently discussing the terms and conditions of an enhanced energy partnership with Iraqi Kurds. The Prime Minster of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, confirmed the negotiation for an energy deal with Iraq’s KRG. In his interview with CNNTurk television, Turkish Prime Minster said that they are (the Turkish Government) in the process of striking the trade agreement with the KRG. In the interview, Prime Minister Erdoğan stated that as a government, they aim to enhance the capacity of the existing pipelines and make oil transaction more lucrative. The Prime Minister also pointed out a possible extension of the current pipeline network via increasing the number of oil and gas pipelines.

At this point, it is believed that with the deal, Iraq’s KRG aims to strengthen its position in the region, while the Turkish government aims to enhance mutual ties with the KRG to subsidize the energy deficit of Turkey in a more lucrative way. However, the increasingly closer relations between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government cannot obtain support on Washington’s part. Washington believes that rapprochement between the two parties may trigger the disintegration of Iraq and push an increasingly isolated Iraq into Iran. However, Prime Minister Erdoğan believes strongly that the deal between Turkey and the KRG creates a “win-win” situation that is in no way contradictory to American interests in the region.

It is known that Turkey and Iraqi central governments have several disagreements over different issues, one of which is Turkey’s refusals to extradite fugitive Vice President Tareq al- Hashemi and and another is the burgeoning energy cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan. On the contrary, Iraq’s central government has so far blocked Turkish efforts to step up Turkey’s existence in Northern Iraq. For example, Baghdad blocked Turkish National Energy Firm TPAO from bidding for an oil exploration contract in November 2012 and one month later, Iraqi government did not allow a passenger plane which carried Turkish Energy Ministry Taner Yıldız to land in Arbil.