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KRG Oil Sales to Turkey Inflame Tensions with Baghdad

Baghdad has threatened legal action in response to the Kurdistan Regional Government's decision to export oil to Turkey, while Washington stands by, writes Semih Idiz. 
Tanker trucks wait to be loaded at Taq Taq oil field in Arbil at the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad, September, 5, 2012. To match Analysis IRAQ-OIL-KURDISTAN/ REUTERS/Azad Lashkari (IRAQ - Tags : - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS POLITICS)

In a major but relatively unnoticed move, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has authorized crude oil exports to Turkey, with the aim of reaching world markets independent of the central government. KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashty Hawrami told reporters in Arbil this week that crude oil had started to be trucked to Turkey as of Jan. 8.

The development is likely to increase tensions in the already strained ties between the Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad, as well as between Baghdad and Ankara. The development also comes despite strong disapproval from Washington, which worries that bypassing Baghdad risks the breakup of an Iraq already suffering from ethnic and sectarian rivalry.

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