Rosh Nuri al-Shawish, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq has confirmed that Kurdistan is finally ready to start their discussion with Baghdad with the focus of ending the long oil crisis and forging an oil law to manage this natural resource better.
The positive tone of this statement by Shawish is a sign that the central government and the autonomous Kurdish government are probably ready to take their dispute over oil towards a resolution and along with that the matters like territory sharing and power-sharing will also be taken care of, so that Iraq’s federal union can finally experience some stability.
According to the statement by Shawish, it seems that Kurdistan has taken the stand that the passing of amendment draft of 2007 of the oil and gas law will be the perfect solution for the situation, because all the parties had agreed upon the terms of the law and they had also opined that it will be pretty nice a solution to the broader power-sharing situation among Kurdish, Sunni and Shia blocks.
The deputy prime minister who is a strong connection in the talks between Baghdad and Kurdistan has said in an interview that approving the draft of the law and adding some amendments that all the parties have agreed before is the best way to put an end to this dispute.
According to Shawish, Kurdish officials have been in talks with Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the head of Shi’ite National Alliance lead by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the result of the preliminary talks is rather positive and progressive. The atmosphere is also getting better after the talks.
For a long time, Kurdistan has been teasing and testing the nerve of Baghdad by signing oil deals with foreign and international oil operators and companies, like Exxon and Chevron. These contracts have been branded as illegal by the central government and they were being regarded as the Kurdish attempt for more power as an autonomous government.
This dispute is complicating the situation and the power sharing equation of Iraq. Moreover, this dispute started between the three parties even before the departure of the US troops in December last year.
It has been a long standing accusation on the part of Kurdish government and the Iraqiya party powered by Sunnis that Maliki has been sidelining them for a long time now. They have also said that this Shi’ite leader has been acquiring power this way for a long time. Maliki’s supporters are of the opinion that this is an equation which has been created for striping him of the power.
Talks and coercion
At present Baghdad and Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan is fight over the export issues. Kurdistan has claimed that the Baghdad has not fulfilled the payments of the companies that are working in this region; and that is why the Kurds have threatened to stop the oil export come September.
According to the Iraqi government, Kurdistan is yet to submit the correct paperwork for the audit purpose and that is why the payment is still due.
The adoption of a new and amended oil and gas law has long been thought to the key to the success and development of the oil sector of Iraq. Baghdad has already signed multimillion dollars worth contract with international oil companies overlooking the legal safeguards.
In 2011, both the Kurdistan government and Maliki agreed to amend the 2007 hydrocarbon law or pass the law as it is by the end of the year, but despite that talk the year passed without the agreement being passed.
According to this 2007 draft of the law, the regional powers are assigned with partial authority of the reserve within their area. The advisors of Maliki have opined that they would like that draft of the law because time is running out.
Kurdistan has been autonomous from 1991 and it has its own government and armed forces but despite that is relies upon the central government for a share of the oil revenues of the country from its national budget.
According to Shawish’s statement, Kurdish government takes it as their constitutional right to sign deals with major international oil companies. He also added that the main reason behind the dispute is the old law that centralized the control of oil in Iraq and that law has been active since the Saddam Hussein era.
According to the Kurdish politicians, the dispute is the result of too much dependence on the old laws. If new laws are formed in alignment with the constitution, then the situation will improve.