Kurds’ Oil Deals With Turkey Raise Fears of Fissures in Iraq

From The New York Times

By Tim Arango & Clifford Krauss

The sharp, dry mountains that run between Turkey and Iraq have long marked a front line in the battle between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatists where cross-border attacks took many lives on both sides.

Though a rapprochement has calmed the border, the United States fears stability may now be in even greater danger. The problem is not war — but commerce. Iraqi Kurds are selling oil and natural gas directly to Turkey, infuriating Washington and the central government in Baghdad, which fear that oil independence could lead Kurds to declare a broad independence and the fracturing of the nation.

Even as sectarian killing is again spiking across Iraq, and the Syrian civil war destabilizes the region, American officials in Baghdad say the flow of oil to Turkey may be the greatest potential risk to Iraq’s cohesion.

But a year-and-a-half-long diplomatic drive by the United States to stop the flow has so far failed, reflecting Washington’s diminished influence in the region, even with its two longtime allies. Not only will trucks continue to travel daily from the Kurdish region to two Turkish cities on the Mediterranean coast, and not only will the Kurds continue to deliver oil via a pipeline to Turkey, but the parties plan to build a second pipeline, whose details have been kept secret.

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