MESOP : THE FAT CATS OF KURDISTAN (II) – Talabani’s Wife Hero Ibrahim Ahmed Plays Dirty With Kirkuk’s Oil

Ahmed Kurda | Kurdsunited Investigative Team – 3 Sept 2016 –  The news that oil is flowing once again from the Kirkuk fields through the KRG’s export pipeline to Ceyhan is widely seen as good news for Kurds and may signal the start of better relations between the KRG and Baghdad.It ends a six-month standoff between Baghdad and the KRG that has shut in much of Kirkuk’s oil production and cost ordinary Kurds over 30 million barrels of oil, valued at least $1 billion revenue, that could have helped to pay Peshmerga, teachers, doctors and other government employees and maintain the basic services that any decent government should provide for its people.

This wasteful situation, which saw Kirkuk’s crude oil being re-injected by the Kirkuk-based North Oil Company into disused wells rather than put into the export pipeline, was at the time assumed to be a product of the endless political disputes between Baghdad and the KRG over the Kurd’s oil rights. But we at Kurdsunited have been told by our informed sources close to decision makers in Sulaimani, Kirkuk and Baghdad that the tussle with the Baghdad government was not the reason that the Kurds’ economic situation was damaged and Peshmerga and others went unpaid.

The Fingers of Blame

Indeed, angry fingers in Sulaimani are now pointing to Hêro Ibrahim Ahmed, the wife of Iraq’s former President Jalal Talabani, as the person who must take the full blame for the decision to play dirty with Kirkuk’s oil and deprive the Kurdish people of their rightful revenues.

It should be no surprise to anyone, that it was Hêro’s personal petty historic family rivalries, urged on by her notorious sister in London, that lay behind a decision she took to persuade Iraq’s Prime Minister Dr. Haider Abadi to stop the oil supply from Kirkuk fields to the KRG. It seems her desire to feather her pockets by smuggling oil to Iran and buying off some people in Gorran with oil for their refinery, combined with her desire to destroy the Barzanis and the KDP at all costs, only increased the burden on the ordinary people of Kurdistan a time of economic hardship.

According to the information circulating amongst the international observers in Baghdad (the Americans in particular), which was lately widely reported in Kurdish media outlets such as Xelk (which is close to the PUK), and Rudaw, (which is close to Nechirvan Barzani), Hêro Ibrahim was the person responsible for telling Iraq Prime Minister Haider Abadi not to allow Kirkuk’s oil into the KRG pipeline.

Secret Letter to Dr Abadi

She secretly wrote to Dr. Abadi asking him not to hand over oil to the KRG, but instead to give her 50,000 barrels of oil per day, 20,000 of which would be refined locally in a refinery in Dokan (which is owned by figures in Gorran), while 30,000 barrels per day would be trucked from Kirkuk through PUK – dominated territory across the border with Iran with the collaboration of her nephew, Lahur Sheikh Jengi.

It is now clear that that her interference gave Dr. Abadi the excuse not to restart the oil export. Otherwise, why would Dr. Abadi want to start a new untimely confrontation with the KRG by stopping the exports months ago? If it had not been for the petty actions of the former first lady, the KRG would have had an extra $1 billion to pay the Peshmerga and civil servants and Kirkuk would have had more petrodollar money to help provide services to its poor citizens.

The interference by Iraq’s former first lady, who is unelected and holds no official position, is further evidence of the cynical contempt with which unelected Kurdish political leaders treat the ordinary citizens. Her unilateral actions have also further divided the Kurds and they reflect badly on the PUK.

US Pressure Not to Smuggle Oil to Iran

Meanwhile, the plans for Kirkuk’s oil by Hêro Ibrahim and her inner circle have also attracted criticism from the US, whose support the Kurds badly need to keep on board in their fight against Daesh. In Baghdad, the Americans lobbied Dr Abadi not to give Hêro Ibrahim any oil that her faction could then smuggle to Iran. They told Abadi that it would set a bad precedent, and that soon he would face similar demands from political figures across Basra and the south of Iraq.

London Oil Deals Fall Flat

Meanwhile in London, representatives of Hêro Ibrahim’s sister (Shanaz) and her son (Assos) have been approaching oil traders trying to secure deals for the oil they were expecting to get from Abadi. Shanaz’ husband, Latif Rashid, is one of the most unpopular figures in the PUK leadership and earned the reputation as one of the Kurds’ most corrupt figures during his time as a minister in Baghdad. He is widely rumoured to have had close business links with Nuri al Maliki. The traders, who do their homework, were understandably suspicious and left well alone.

Unilateral Decisions & No Consultation

The unilateral decisions Hêro Ibrahim took to play with Kirkuk’s oil were made without consultation with either the governor of Kirkuk or other key members of the PUK politbureau.
They are all understandably furious. One senior PUK member, Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim, opposed her move, according to our sources in the Kirkuk governor’s office. He argued it was better for Kirkuk’s oil to go into the export pipeline rather than to be trucked across the border to Iran. He said trucking costs alone to Iran would costs $20-$30 per barrel, while putting the crude into the pipeline would be more transparent and also earn more petrodollars for Kirkuk from the petrodollar.

The Final Straw for Barham and Kosrat

In fact, Hêro Ibrahim’s actions to try to grab Kirkuk’s oil for herself and her cronies are one reason why the two PUK deputy leaders Kosrat Rasul Ali and Barham Salih decided enough was enough and issued their dramatic statement on September 1, attacking Hêro Ibrahim and her wing inside the PUK and accusing them of sullying the memory of Jalal Talabani. After the announcement of the new anti-Hêro “decision centre” within the PUK, Lahur Sheikh Jengi was quoted by Rudaw as saying that Hêro was unaware of the dramatic events and that: “Hêro xan is busy drinking coffee and smoking.”

“The Ultimate Treason”

One PUK source, a supporter of Barham Salih, told Kurdsunited that he viewed Hêro Ibrahim’s actions as “the ultimate treason.” The source said: “She is acting entirely in her own interests, egged on by her sister in London. One cannot imagine the PUK or even an independent Kurdistan being run by any of these dreadful characters who will sell out all Kurdish interests to Baghdad and Iran if it benefits themselves. Their behavior sullies the memory of Mam Jalal and the many other good PUK activists. God forbid, she even makes the Barzanis look not so bad.”

Ahmed Kurda is the founder of the Kurdsunited Investigation Team, a group of well-connected and patriotic young Kurds based in Sulimani, Amedi, Amsterdam and the UK. We do not align ourselves with any party in Kurdistan. Only the truth matters.