Turkey and KRG start secret talks, deputy says

Turkey and KRG start secret talks, deputy says

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey and KRG start secret talks, deputy says

The rights on oil and gas extracted in northern Iraq is one of the leading disputes between the central government in Baghdad and the KRG in Arbil. REUTERS photo

A main opposition lawmaker insists that Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) secretly signed a “framework agreement” last year that outlined transportation and marketing of oil and gas sources in northern Iraq to the global market by excluding the central government in Baghdad.

The secret deal has not yet been finalized and the parties are discussing a critical article, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aytun Çıray told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. He said he had unconfirmed information about the details of the critical article, thus he would not elaborate on what that article consists of for now.

Iraq’s central government in Baghdad and the Arbil-based KRG are locked in a widening dispute over control of oil revenues, oilfields and territory that is fraying the country’s uneasy federal union. The feud between Baghdad and the Arbil-based KRG enclave, which has run its own regional administration and armed forces since 1991, has escalated since the KRG began signing oil deals last year with major companies Exxon Mobil and Chevron to develop fields.

Baghdad insists the central government has the sole constitutional right to export oil, while the KRG says its right to grant contracts to foreign oil firms is enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution, which was drawn up following the 2003 invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

The KRG began exporting its own very light oil, or condensate, independently to world markets in October 2012 via truck to a Turkish port, where it was sold through an intermediary. The central government describes the transaction as “oil-smuggling.”

Iraq’s central government entitles the KRG to 17 percent of oil products refined in Iraq, but the secret deal between Turkey and the KRG aims to transfer all northern oil revenue to Arbil, Çıray said.

The recent political crisis between the Baghdad government and Arbil administration is an outcome of the secret agreement, Çıray also claimed. “These developments could lead to very dangerous results. Divisions within Iraq as well as Turkey could occur. The [Turkish] government is playing a very dangerous game.” The government’s recent talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the PKK and security forces had actually been launched to secure “appropriate conditions” for the deal, Çıray also claimed.

The CHP lawmaker issued a parliamentary question to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu about the alleged secret deal.

Arguing that an offshore company was founded by Turkey as part of the secret agreement, Çıray asked Davutoğlu whether companies whose owners are close to the Turkish government would be shareholders in the offshore company.

“If aforementioned deals come into force, a de-facto dissolution within Iraq will be inevitable. Has Turkey’s foreign policy, which advocates the integrity of Iraq, changed?” Çıray asked.