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ABC News
ABC News
25 Mar 2023
ABC News

BEIRUT -- Iraqi officials announced Saturday that Baghdad has won an international arbitration case that will halt oil exports from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region by way of Turkey.

Officials in Baghdad and Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government, have long been at odds over sharing of oil revenues. In 2014, the Kurdish region decided to unilaterally export oil through an independent pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Baghdad called the move “smuggling” and “robbery” and filed a case against Turkey in the International Court of Arbitration, arguing that Turkey was violating the provisions of the Iraqi-Turkish pipeline agreement signed in 1973.

The central government considers it illegal for Irbil to export oil without going through the Iraqi national oil company, while Kurdish authorities have said the practice is meant to compensate for budget transfers withheld from the Kurdish region by Baghdad.

Iraq’s ministry of oil said in a statement that the ministry, via the national oil marketing company, SOMO, “is the only entity authorized to manage export operations through the Turkish port of Ceyhan.”

In the wake of the ruling issued in Paris on Thursday, the ministry said it will “discuss the mechanisms of exporting Iraqi oil through the Turkish port of Ceyhan with the concerned authorities in the region and with the Turkish authorities… in a manner that guarantees the continuation of oil exports and the fulfillment of SOMO’s obligations.”

The Kurdish region’s ministry of natural resources said in a statement that the regional government will not “give up on the constitutional rights of the Kurdistani people” and that the ruling will not harm its relations with the central government.

The region’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said recent discussions with Baghdad “have laid the groundwork for us to overcome the arbitration ruling today” and that a team from the regional government will travel to Baghdad on Sunday for talks.