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Turkey flexing muscle with Kurdish oil sales

Ankara has its own interests in mind with disputed Iraqi oil.
By Daniel J. Graeber   |   May 27, 2014 at 9:29 AM   |   Comments

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ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 27 (UPI) -- Turkey is flexing diplomatic muscle and showing it's ready to position itself as a key energy hub with the export of Kurdish oil, an international analyst said.

The semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government confirmed in a statement Friday a tanker loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil left a Turkish port, the first of what it said would be "many such sales of oil" from northern Iraq.

The central government in Baghdad filed a case at an international court of arbitration in Paris to challenge the export. The central government says any unilateral deals in the energy sector from KRG are illegal, though the Kurdish side said it's operating according to the rule of law.

Soli Ozel, an international relations analyst at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, told Voice of America the oil issue spills over into Turkish ambitions for the region.

"Ankara wants to have its way and wants to prove it can have its way. That is number one," he said. "Number two, it's very important for Ankara to become a gas and oil and hub and if it cannot do it legally, I think it wants to do it through fait accompli."

Turkey hosts a series of oil and gas pipelines extending to Europe.

Sinan Ulgen, an analyst at the Brussels bureau of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told VOA the Iraqi government is wary the exports would set a trend and weaken its grip on the national energy sector.

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