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Baghdad Pressures Kurdistan by Reopening Oil Pipeline | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A general view of Baiji oil refinery in Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, January 21, 2009. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Baghdad- Baghdad announced on Tuesday its first practical steps to besiege the oil of the Kurdistan Region, as part of a move taken in collaboration with Turkey to retaliate against the Sept. 25 referendum which came in favor of independence.

Iraq’s Oil Ministry said on Tuesday that it decided to restore and reopen its export pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port by passing through the two provinces of Salahuddin and Nineveh.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luiebi instructed the North Oil Company [NOC], the State Company for Oil Projects [SCOP], and the Oil Pipelines Company to prepare an urgent plan to implement an urgent rehabilitation operation, according to an Oil Ministry statement Tuesday.

The move is a sign that Baghdad wants to prevent exporting its oil through the Kurdistan Region.

The instruction of the oil minister came as the Iraqi government officially asked Turkey and Iran last Monday to stop all their commercial dealings with Irbil, especially those related to the region’s oil.

The statement issued by the Iraqi oil ministry also mentioned that al-Luiebi met on Monday with the Turkish ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, and discussed development of bilateral relations, particularly in the oil and energy fields.

“Yildiz told us that the Turkish government has decided to limit its oil business to the Iraqi government and that the Turkish petroleum company TPAO would soon resume activities at Mansuriya gas field in Diyala province,” the Iraqi oil ministry said in its statement.

In a related development, members of the Shi’ite National Alliance inside Iraq’s Parliament demanded that officials accused of smuggling oil be legally pursued.

Member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Iraqi parliament Samira al-Moussawi said she was able to gather the signatures of 93 deputies to “ask the government to present a list of all officials involved in the operation of selling and smuggling oil,” in an allusion to some officials from the Kurdistan Region.

Moussawi also demanded the government to speak with Turkey, the US and other states to freeze the foreign bank accounts of officials from the region’s government and to transfer the money to the Iraqi state treasury.