Despite American and Iraqi opposition, Kurdistan has signed a $3 billion investment with Russia’s Rosneft. According to a June 2 agreement, Russia will buy Kurdish oil and refine it in Germany. The deal grants Rosneft access to 700,000 barrels a day, which will be expanded to a million bpd by year’s end. So, how exactly did the United States allow Russia to perform an Iraqi take-over?
The conflict arises from Kurdistan’s current status as part of Iraq, though the region has enjoyed relative autonomy since the end of the Gulf War. Along with the Sunni and Shiite factions, Kurdistan formed a new Iraqi government in 2005. Unfortunately, much of the detail regarding oil revenue sharing and territorial disputes were pushed off until a later time: a time likely not to occur.
Without any agreement as to who owns the oil in the Kurdish region of Iraq, Kurdistan began moving their product without the permission of the Baghdad based Iraqi Government – causing Baghdad to cease all payments to the Kurdistan region.
Due to Kurdistan’s lack of sea access, moving their oil through Turkish pipelines became the only possible option. It is important to note that Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States, and this action of allowing Kurdistan to create an autonomous business directly contradicted the wishes of the U.S. military and civilian government.
In the midst of this legal conflict – and at least partially due to the resulting instability – ISIS emerged to plunge the region into even greater chaos. When the ISIS bombarded Iraqi government soldiers fled Kirkuk, an oil rich province the Kurds claim as their ancestral right, the Kurds were able to enter, secure and control the area. Given the monetary value of the land, the Iraqi government has hotly contested this issue since the land-grab. Shiite and Kurdish tensions remain at a boiling point throughout the province.
As the most successful ground force against ISIS, the Kurds would eventually come to the rescue of many ethnic minority groups such as the Yazidis and Christians facing genocide in 2014 SInjar crisis. This and other victories would not come without a price, however. Cut off from Iraqi funds, Kurdistan was dealt another major blow when U.S courts declared that selling Kurdish oil constituted a crime. Fighting America’s war against American supplied jihadists, the Kurds would soon find themselves on the brink of financial ruin.
In one of the most deplorable displays of leadership ever seen in an American president, it would take nearly 3 months from the fall of Mosul for the Obama administration to deliver any weaponry to the Kurdish people.
As international attention grew, efforts to support the Kurdish and Iraqi forces against ISIS would also increase. With increased American and Russian support in the fight against ISIS, the Islamic threat has begun to slowly wane, creating a safer, more profitable climate for oil dealings.
America’s second betrayal of the Kurds (look up Henry Kissinger’s Iran/Iraq war manipulation of the Kurds) would not go by unanswered. With Russia’s new contract with Kurdistan, a large percentage of the Kurdish oil business has been lost to the United States.
Despite the loss in revenue, there are positives to this outcome. Russia has dramatically better relationships with Iran and Syria than the United States. If the United States gives up their attempt to stimulate Assad’s overthrow, the Gulf region could regain stability at a higher rate than any expert could have expected. With Russia having more capital invested in the region, the U.S could have a partner that actually contributes – unlike the vestigial, rotting appendage known as NATO.
There will be those who consider any Russian gain a loss to America – especially in the fake news era of American journalism. However, given Iraq’s recent history, a little help might be nice. Turkey, the NATO member in the region, has been accused of aiding ISIS by hundreds of separate sources, is a world leader in incarcerated professors and journalists, and recently voted to limit their own democracy. If a country like that is who America has been counting on, maybe it is time for new friends. Sorry to those still living in a Cold War climate.