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Turkey's Kurdish client state

Turkey has tremendous financial and security influence over the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, exposing Erbil to economic and political vulnerabilities.
Iraq's Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani (R) speaks with Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz (L) at the Iraq-Kurdistan Oil and Gas Conference at Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, December 2, 2013. Turkey said on Monday it stood by a bilateral oil deal with Iraq's Kurdistan region that bypassed central government but wanted to win Baghdad's support by drawing it into the arrangement. Reuters reported that Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan signed a multi-billion-dollar energy package last week, infuriatin

Several months ago, the international media and political pundits were predicting imminent Kurdish statehood. Many in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) believed, and perhaps still do, that the KRG could independently export crude oil to Turkey and create a viable, autonomous revenue source. These expectations were fueled by "energy agreements" between Erbil and Ankara, a cold war between former Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and international oil company interests in the Kurdistan region.

Instead of statehood or enhanced autonomy, however, the KRG has become more dependent on Turkey while remaining tied to Iraq. This dependency has deepened with the Islamic State (IS) threatening the region, territorial and resource disputes in Iraq remaining unresolved and Ankara and Baghdad pursuing a rapprochement. It leaves the KRG more deeply lodged between regional powers and enhances Turkey’s control over Erbil’s energy and political agendas.

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