Kurds Threaten to Withhold Oil, Coalition Airstrikes in Iraq Continue
A political stand off between the Kurdish Regional Government and the central Iraqi government in Baghdad is threatening to distract from the battle against the Islamic State as coalition forces continue their campaign of air assaults.
Reuters reports that the Kurdish Regional Government is threatening to withhold its share of oil collected for export if the Iraqi government does not release funds that were promised to the Kurds.
The impasse arises from the fact that the Kurds are claiming Baghdad has only offered half of the sum agreed upon after Dec. negotiations. The Dec. agreement came after US diplomatic pressure to get the Kurds and Iraqi government to put the issue of oil exports and revenues behind them as ISIS rampaged through Iraq.
The Dec. agreement called for the Kurds to export 550,000 barrels of oil a day through the central government. That agreement was made necessary by the fact that in 2014, the Kurds began to export oil independently from the government in Baghdad because they felt they were not being properly compensated.
The Dec. deal was made possible by the fact that the United States lobbied actively to prevent anyone from buying the oil that the Kurds exported without going through the Iraqi government.
A different Reuters report notes that US and coalition forces carried out 15 airstrikes from Feb. 15 to 16. Two of the strikes targeted ISIS positions in Syria while the other 13 hit locations in Iraq.
The Syrian strikes targeted oil facilities and a group of IS fighters near the town of Kobane, which has been the scene of fierce fighting between Syrian Kurds and ISIS. The Iraqi strikes targeted fighters, buildings, and vehicles of the Islamic State.