US says views on Kurdish oil sale to Turkey not changed / …… but who in the whole wide world cares about OBAMA ?

28 November 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – The US Department of State has reiterated its concerns over a plan for the export of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey, saying that no energy deals should be implemented without the approval of the Iraqi central administration.

“Our view has not changed. We don’t support oil exports from any part of Iraq without approval of the Iraqi federal government. We continue to urge the federal government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] to reach a constitutional solution, and that has consistently been our position,” said US Secretary of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki during a daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Her remarks came hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met in Ankara to discuss the construction of a new oil pipeline from Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey but failed to reach a concrete result.

The Iraqi central government and the US are disturbed by the fact that Turkey has become a major trading partner for the Iraqi Kurdish region in terms of energy exports and have continued to warn that the growing ties between the KRG and Turkey might lead to the breakup of Iraq.

Psaki was asked whether American officials raised the issue of the energy deal with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during his visit to Washington on Nov. 18, but the spokeswoman did not answer the question. Erdoğan and Barzani, joined by Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yıldız and Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz as well as KRG Deputy Prime Minister Imad Ahmad Sayfour and Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami, held a three-hour meeting at the Prime Ministry and exchanged views on regional problems as well as ways to improve bilateral relations between Turkey and the autonomous Kurdish administration.

A preliminary deal for the construction of the new pipeline was reached several months ago, but sources close to the deal say the Turkish side is waiting for a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki before concluding it. The visit is expected to take place in December.

According to sources at the Prime Ministry, Erdoğan said during the meeting that high-level visits between Turkey and the KRG will continue in the coming weeks and that Turkey also wants to host Maliki in Ankara to convene for the second time the High-Level Strategic Council of the two countries’ cabinets. Erdoğan said he wants to pay an official visit to Iraq after Maliki’s visit, traveling to both Baghdad and Arbil.

Elaborating on the details of the Erdoğan-Barzani meeting, Today’s Zaman’s sources said there are still problems with the energy deal in terms of some technical details that need to be worked out, particularly concerning the sharing of revenue generated by the oil exports between the Kurdish authority and the Iraqi central government. Barzani, speaking to reporters at Ankara Esenboğa Airport on Tuesday night, said oil exports to Turkey from northern Iraq may start as early as December but did not elaborate.

Baghdad says energy deal could harm relations with Turkey


The new oil pipeline is expected to link up with an existing pipeline from Kirkuk to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The new oil pipeline is expected to have an initial capacity of 400,000 barrels per day (bpd). This amount will rise to 1 million bpd in 2015 and 2 million bpd in 2019, in line with increases in production capacity. Baghdad’s Kirkuk fields currently transport around 400,000 bpd through the existing Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, far less than its capacity for 1.6 million bpd.

Turkey’s endeavors to strengthen relations with Arbil are perceived as efforts to diversify its energy resources, but its rapprochement with Iraqi Kurds has infuriated Baghdad, which sees the KRG control over hydrocarbon resources as unconstitutional and doubts that its control over the oil and gas fields will pave the way for an independent Kurdish state. Iraq’s constitution states that all oil export revenue belongs to the central government and the autonomous Kurdish region is entitled to 17 percent of that total. Joining Washington in warning Turkey over its energy talks with the KRG, Baghdad has said the opening of a new oil pipeline from its autonomous Kurdish region would seriously harm relations with Turkey. “The Iraqi government informed the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad of its strong opposition to signing the pipeline deal with Kurdistan,” Maliki’s spokesman, Ali Mussawi, told the AFP.

The Iraqi government has threatened that “in case this signature happens, bilateral relations between Baghdad and Ankara will be damaged severely,” Mussawi added. Baghdad’s warning comes at a time Baghdad and Ankara are attempting to thaw their frosty relations. In October, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was in Turkey and had talks with President Abdullah Gül, Erdoğan and Davutoğlu. “It is high time we turn a new page,” he said after these talks. “Although we have differences of opinion on some issues, there aren’t any problems between us that cannot be solved,” Zebari said in a joint press conference with Davutoğlu. According to observers, Ankara is trying to keep a foot in both camps by attempting to improve its relations with Baghdad while at the same time not turning its back on the KRG.