A bitter dispute over oil revenues between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities highlights the escalating tensions that could split war-torn Iraq apart. However, anti-war activist Mike Raddie says the chaos is ‘all part of the plan.’
Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region halted oil deliveries to Baghdad on Monday, claiming the central government owed it $1.5 billion. The region’s Ministry of Natural Resources said that despite exporting 50,000 barrels per day, “there have been no payments for 10 months, nor any indication from federal authorities that payments are forthcoming."
Baghdad shot back, saying they have incurred $6.65 billion in lost revenue over the past few years after Kurdish authorities short-changed them on crude exports. The central government has further accused Kurdistan of smuggling oil through Iran.
Mike Raddie from Democracy Village told RT the latest dispute highlights the degradation of the Iraqi economy following decades of sanctions and war.
“So the oil producers in the north, which is actually the easiest oil to extract in the country, are not getting paid. The southern oil fields, which are still in disarray after the US/UK invasion, need hundreds of billions of [British] pounds of infrastructure improvements to be able to extract that readily. That doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from the Western oil companies like BP, like Chevron, like Total, that have got contracts in there,” Raddie said.
“The deal was they would get the contracts and they would build the infrastructure. None of the infrastructure, as it happens, would actually benefit the Iraqi people in any case, but the Iraqi people will be left with the bill,” he continued.
Holding the fifth-largest oil exports in the world, Iraq has issued 15 energy licenses since 2003, and global oil giants are preparing for a new licensing round come May.
Raddie argues that it is this competition for access to the country’s resources that has led to “the chaos which is the post-war plan for Iraq.”
“It’s the most laissez-faire economy on the planet and it’s exactly what corporations want – political disputes amongst the regions. But no one is actually looking at the bigger picture, which is the pillage of Iraq by Western private corporations.”