Kurds accuse Baghdad of oil grab

The Kurdish oil is parked off the coast of Morocco.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  June 5, 2014 at 10:12 AM
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ERBIL, Iraq, June 5 (UPI) -- The Iraqi central government in Baghdad aims to control the issue of oil "completely," the prime minister of the semiautonomous Kurdish government said.

The United Leadership, a crude oil tanker, is parked off the coast of Morocco with more than 1 million barrels of Kurdish oil taken last month from a Turkish sea port.

The Kurdish and central governments are at odds over who controls what in terms of oil. Baghdad said the export is a violation of the national constitution, though the Kurdistan Regional Government contests the allegation.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Kurdish lawmakers who controls Iraq's oil is the "big question" in the country.

"[Our] counterparts in Baghdad did not identify 'right' or 'wrong' KRG actions," he said in remarks published Thursday. "They just wanted to control the issue completely."

The central government in Baghdad filed a case at an international court of arbitration in Paris to challenge the export.

The prime minister said the Kurdish government "resorted" to exports from the Turkish port because Baghdad cut its share of the federal budget. Any cooperation with the Turkish government, he said, wasn't part of a move to increase Kurdish autonomy.

"We do not consider this to be a political move to divide Iraq," he said.

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