Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oil-Rich Kurdistan Capitalizes On Iraqi Chaos

The Iraqi crisis has allowed the Kurds (Peshmerga) to grab contested areas and seize the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Iraqi army has been in no position to resist thanks to the onslaught mounted by the ISIS. Kurdish leaders view the sudden collapse of the Iraqi state across the north of with barely concealed glee, regarding this as a unique opportunity to strengthen their own hand.

The seizure of Kirkuk would have been unthinkable before this week, but with Iraqi security forces not only displaying its inability to control large population centers from ISIS fighters, they have little appetite to confront Peshmerga forces, who are considered the best trained and most disciplined soldiers in Iraq, from consolidating territory beyond the Kurdish borders. When the smoke clears, the result could be a permanent territorial gain for Kurdistan.

For centuries, Kurds have dreamed of gaining full control of Kirkuk province, which was previously their capital. Yousif Mohammed Sadiq, the parliamentary speaker of the Kurdish Regional Government, emphasised the desire of the Kurdish government to break away from the rest of the country: “There is a natural divide between the people of Iraq. The Kurds and the Arabs, for example, are not one people but they were pushed together into one country whose borders are not natural.”


In addition to its symbolic importance, Kirkuk is now a hub for energy exploration, with some of Iraq’s largest oilfields found within the province. The Kurds view control of the oilfields as the gateway to building a viable independent state. Since 2011, big oil companies, including  BP, ExxonMobil and Total have signed exploration deals with Iraqi Kurdistan.

Tracking the ISIS story

1 comment:

Katy Anders said...

It was fun to watch the Sunday talk shows, where they acted astonished that the lines in Iraq are starting to look "the way they did 100 years ago."

Presumably, they meant the lines before the West drew the country for the Iraqi people without respect to ethnic or geographical realities.

Yeah. Just astonishing.