Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Login

Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using
 

Email

 

Rudaw

Analysis

Kurdish statehood and Iranian-Turkish interdependency

By Paul Iddon 24/4/2016
A Kurdistan flag hangs on an oil drill in Zakho, Kurdistan Region. Photo: AP
A Kurdistan flag hangs on an oil drill in Zakho, Kurdistan Region. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region--Increased business and trade ties between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey over the course of the past decade has led many to conclude that an interdependent relationship will substantially lessen the prospect that Turkey may strongly oppose the self-determination of Iraq’s Kurds in their drive to achieve independence and statehood. 

While the Turkish government vehemently opposed full-fledged autonomy for the Kurdistan Region following the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, it now maintains a cordial relationship with its southeastern neighbour. 

Oil exported from the Kurdish Region is piped through Turkey. Erbil may well, in the near future, become a major source of natural gas for Turkey, which is diversifying the sources from which it buys its much needed gas following the breakdown in ties between it and Russia late last year. 

Talks are also underway to export Kurdish oil to Iranian terminals in the Persian Gulf. This is not only important for Kurdistan, since it needs more than one route through which to export its oil and energy resources, but it is also a smart way to establish a broader economic relationship with Iran. Tehran is, after all, arguably the most powerfully staunch opponent of an independent Kurdistan Region, particularly one which includes Kirkuk. Forming a close relationship with Iran will be important if the Kurdistan Region is to survive and endure if its inhabitants do opt for, and pursue, independence. 

Whether Tehran agrees to deal with independently exported Kurdish oil in the near future remains unclear given its devotion to the continued governance of the entirety of Iraq by the central government in Baghdad. Iran may change this policy in the near future in recognition of the evolving situation in the region.  

In fact, there is an informative historical precedent from Iran itself which is worth contemplating. 

During the lengthy reign of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the main threat he perceived to his rule was Soviet-sponsored communism. His regime cracked down hard and ruthlessly on suspected communist movements throughout the country. However, on the foreign affairs front, the Shah knew that solely trying to confront and contain the Soviets was an unrealistic policy for his country to pursue, which is why he normalized ties with the Soviet Union in the early 1960’s and established business and trade relationships with it.

During the period of détente in the 1970’s, Iran was exporting crude oil to Nicolae  Ceausecu’s Romania via the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline in Israel  to an extent that Tehran proved to be a major and important source of energy for Bucharest. On a side note, Professor Roham Alvandi’s recent research on this subject is well worth a read since it is based on Romanian documents only recently studied.

Iranian crude was refined in Romania and shipped throughout the Eastern European communist bloc, something which made Iran an important source of energy and built interdependent links which would have made an overly aggressive Soviet policy against Iran more costly to Moscow compared to a cordial relationship built on mutual self-interest. Therefore, this was a pragmatic approach which both sides benefitted from.  

On a much smaller scale, the Kurdistan Region has been pursuing a policy that is not overly dissimilar. Ankara has grown to accept the autonomy of the Kurdistan Region and may even tolerate an independent Kurdistan Region emerging on its doorstep given the fact that Erbil has amply demonstrated in recent years that it does not pose a threat to Ankara and that its development could actually prove to be very beneficial to Turkey. 

However it would be far too risky for the land-locked Kurdistan Region to rely solely on one neighbor for business and trading. The fact that the Kirkuk to Ceyhan pipeline has been knocked out of action by bombings in Turkey in recent months shows how easily and suddenly Kurdistan can lose hundreds of millions of state income. A second pipeline to export its oil, and eventually its gas also, through Iran would lessen the cost posed by accidents, attacks, and sabotage in the future as the economy gradually diversifies and seeks to reduce its over reliance on oil exports. 

If an independent Kurdistan is to emerge, the building of such bridges – in tandem with soft power policies and outreaches – will be of crucial importance to its endurance, survival, and prosperity. 

Paul Iddon is a Rudaw reporter based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region.

Comments

 
Adam | 25/4/2016
Well they're finalizing the deal with Iran and I think couple of years ago they were discussing similar pipelines through a future Sunni region or state south of their border to Jordan so it seems they've laid out such plans a long time ago.
FAUthman | 8/5/2016
There is an existing 500 mile pipeline in Syria that Kurds in Iraq can easily hook up to from Feyshkhabor, which is almost next door and Kurdish oil can then go to Tartous on the Mediterranean for export, as a third option besides through Turkey and Iran, of course if there is peace in the region, ...but that is a big if!

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Adstar | 7/25/2017 3:38:26 AM
She made her own bed.. Now she can sleep in it.. You can be assured most Germans will not want her back.. They do not support the death penalty but...
green activist defector | 7/25/2017 12:22:14 PM
joshcka fischer the "green activist" and turkish lobbyist in berlin maybe can talk to his boss in ankara to solve this girls situation.
German girl who joined ISIS wants to leave Iraq, return to family
| yesterday at 11:45 | (10)
Gorran is betrayal | 7/25/2017 11:31:12 AM
Russia recognizes the right of the Kurds on indpendence , but Gorran denies the Kurds the right to hold the referendeum on independence.
kurd | 7/25/2017 11:33:27 AM
when he talks to turkish and iranian newspapers, he condemns kurdish independence. some of these comments show how many are naive
Sergey Lavrov to Rudaw: Referendum is expression of Kurdish people’s aspirations
| yesterday at 08:55 | (8)
Gorran is betrayal | 7/25/2017 11:22:49 AM
Gorran is treason , is anti-kurdish .
alan | 7/25/2017 11:29:41 AM
A new leader who is not family member of the former leader? If KDP or PUK gets a new leader he will be from the same family. Thanks we have Gorran...
New Gorran leader: We can achieve party’s objectives through dialogue
| 10 hours ago | (2)
Dana | 7/25/2017 10:47:59 AM
All that useless repetition of obvious information made the article horrible to read, not to mention that it missed the most important detail, which...
Al-Qaida in Syria close to snuffing out competition in north
| 16 hours ago | (1)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

NRT TV owner announces vote-no campaign for referendum 5 hours ago |

NRT TV owner announces vote-no campaign for referendum

He called referendum a “dangerous gamble with more
Kurdish official says US role essential in post-IS Syria 6 hours ago |

Kurdish official says US role essential in post-IS Syria

Americans " must continue until a democratic more
PM Abadi: I won’t deploy tanks to Kurdistan in response to referendum 7 hours ago |

PM Abadi: I won’t deploy tanks to Kurdistan in response to referendum

PM Abadi: “I mean, what I will do? Will I deploy more
0.219 seconds