Kurds to Baghdad - Go Fish

Sunday, April 29, 2007
The KRG is rejecting the oil compact on the basis that it is unconstitutional. That might be a negotiating bluff but it might be absolutely sincere - the KRG minister was certainly eloquent in his rebuttal and quite detailed in his analysis of the various fields.

If the Baghdad government attempts to go forward with the proposed centralized monstrosity outlined in the Dubai Annexes then we can rest assured that the average Iraqi will gain the same benefit from new fields that they enjoyed under Saddam from the old ones - or that the average Iranian or Saudi peasant enjoys.

Buddy made an excellent point concerning democracy's chance for success in Iraq being improved considerably by the average Iraqi having an actual stake as a citizen of Iraq rather than as a serf controlled by some petty desert despot. It could make a very significant and favorable difference in the probable outcome.

Using Kurd oil money to pay extortion to Sunni Arab sheiks shouldn't be acceptable to anyone and using a state owned monopoly which hasn't a hope of transparency to do so may be enough to move the Kurds from autonomy to a declaration of independence. Who could blame them? They've never had a real stake in the fiction of Iraq since the Brits drew the boundary lines on a map.

Current Iraqi production is around 2.3 million bbls per day which (at $50 bbl) translates to a per capita income of $1,500 (total per capita income today is around $2,900). If the KRG minister is correct in his computation that total output could rise to 8 miilion bbls per day then per capita oil income would move to around $5,600 per year.

One might wonder if most of the violence in Iraq isn't driven by speculative investment concerning control of that oil income stream.

Which side will Washington support? If democracy is really an objective, the Kurds should be in good shape.

9 comments:

MeaninglessHotAir said...

The idea of an autonomous Kurdistan strikes me as an American fantasy. How would it defend itself against Iran, Turkey, and the rump Iraq? How much bloodshed would be involved in the split-up of Iraq and its concommitant ethnic cleansing?

Skookumchuk said...

MHA:

How would it defend itself against Iran, Turkey, and the rump Iraq?

Only if we helped in its defense.

Rick Ballard said...

Actually, Kurdistan is autonomous - it's just not independent. Yet.

It's definitely in a rough neighborhood but having a lot of oil seems to attract friends as well as enemies. Iraq doesn't have much in the way of armor, artillery or air. The Kurds have nothing to fear from Baghdad unless the US provides assistance.

If they declared independence, would the US allow Turkish or Iranian interference?

I think it may be a negotiating ploy and I hope it works. A national oil company in Iraq isn't a plus on my scorecard.

chuck said...

Iraq doesn't have much in the way of armor, artillery or air.

It doesn't have them *now*. But there is a lot going on under the radar that goes unreported. For instance, the Iraqi air force has acquired and flies an number of sensor equipped reconnaisence aircraft, using them to patrol the pipelines and such. This not only serves the immediate purpose, but builds organization and trains pilots. They are also flying refurbished helicopters. Remember all those glider competitions in the Third Reich? I suspect that at some point the Iraqis will acquire some fighter/ground attack aircraft and helicopters. And when they do, they will have the people to fly them.

Skookumchuk said...

If we posit an independent Kurdistan, it would need to control its borders, which I would guess would be tough for even the Peshmerga without US high-tech help and perhaps our people on the ground. Then the Kurds would need to control their own people sufficiently to keep them from scaring the Turks. Devising ways of doing that might also be in part a US job.

And Chuck, I have not heard about a major pipeline attack in Iraq in some time. Interesting.

Rick Ballard said...

Skook,

I dunno if border control is that tough an issue for the Kurds. They seem to run a Hotel California style operation for AQ and Arab "guests".

That Dubai Annex really sucks and the Kurds might as well fight while the central government is weak. It's not a bad negotiating position and once they get a revenue stream going they will be in a position to maintain at least regional autonomy.

chuck said...

I have not heard about a major pipeline attack in Iraq in some time.

Yeah, I was wondering about a connection also. I read about the aircraft at EU Referendum, who also had a photo of the flight line. The EU Referendum guys were making the point that you didn't need a multi-million dollar aircraft to carry a modern sensor package and were urging the UK to spend its limited defense budget to acquire cheaper technology for counter insurgency type deployments, especially as British troops were reduced to going up with the Iraqis in order to have some surveillance capability. But I thought the info on the nascent Iraqi air force was interesting, I hadn't seen anything about it elsewhere.

Skookumchuk said...

Chuck:

Who is sent to interdict when an aircraft identifies suspicious activity near a pipeline? Is it always our guys or is it primarily Iraqis? It would be good to know the answer to that one.

Skookumchuk said...

Totten has a good interview with a Peshmerga colonel.