Skip to main content

Iraqi Pipeline to Aqaba Sparks Memories of Kirkuk-Haifa Line

The oil pipeline to be constructed between Baghdad and Aqaba raises fond memories among Israelis of the Mandate-era Kirkuk-Haifa oil pipeline, a time that many would be happy to resurrect, writes Jacky Hugi. 
People are seen as the sun sets over a beach in the Aqaba Gulf on the Red Sea, south of Amman November 25, 2011. Picture taken November 25, 2011. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed (JORDAN - Tags: SOCIETY)
Read in 

The announcement from the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki was short. It was released only a few hours after his return from a short visit to Jordan where he met with Jordanian King Abdullah II. Baghdad, Maliki said, will provide crude oil to Jordan via a new pipeline that will reach the city of Aqaba on the coast of the Red Sea, only a few hundred meters from the Israeli border. This is a double blessing for Jordan, as it will provide an alternative to natural gas from Egypt; the latter supply was lost because of sabotage of the Egyptian pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula. In addition, [the transport of Iraqi oil by pipeline] will save the Jordanians the expenses involved in the transport of oil [by vehicles] that is done today.

Maliki’s pipeline will stop in Hashemite Kingdom territory very close to the Israeli border in Eilat. This brings us back to the good old days when we were able to inhale Iraqi oil here in Israel. The pipeline constructed by the Iraqi national company extended from Kirkuk [Mosul] through Jordanian territory to reach refineries in [Israel’s] Haifa; from Haifa the oil was sent by sea to Europe. This pipeline was constructed in 1935 and operated for 13 years. Iraq, Jordan and the land of Israel [Palestine] were then British colonies, and internal trade was routine. Moreover, Iraqi experts assisted in the construction of the refineries in Haifa and dealt with searching for oil here. Even then, terrorists used to sabotage the energy installations. Arab fighters struck the pipeline during the Arab Revolt in Palestine (1936-1939). A decade later, fighters of the Hebrew underground Etzel movement sabotaged the line. But the pipeline survived [all those attacks] only to receive its death warrant under political circumstances. The pipeline ceased operating when the British evacuated the land of Israel in May 1948 [when the state of Israel was established].

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.