Kurdistan Wants to Help Global Energy Needs: PM Barzani
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Kurdistan Wants to Help Global Energy Needs: PM Barzani

ERBIL — The Kurdistan Region wants to help the global energy needs and fill the gap that has been created in the oil supplies in the region, Europe, and around the world, said PM Masrour Barzani during a plenary session with Saudi and UAE energy ministers at the World Governments Summit in Dubai. 

“We want to help global energy needs and meet the energy security needs of Iraq and beyond. But for that to happen, we’ve got to be supported in the right ways,” PM Barzani said, noting that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is developing new oil and gas fields. 

Speaking about the concerns and emerging threats in the region, the Kurdish leader said Erbil’s plan to become a main player in the international energy market is in the interest of the world and it should not be interpreted as a threat to any other actor in the region. 

“In my speech yesterday I also said that we are trying to at least provide some of the shortages that exists in the world. Now, the question is: are we allowed to go and do that?” The prime minister stated, referring to the Iraqi constitution and the 2007 law of Kurdistan Oil and Gas and the approval of international courts to ensure the legality and constitutionality of the move. 

Commenting on the latest Iranian missile attack on Erbil under the pretext of targeting Israeli bases, PM Barzani once again rejected the accusation and said it was rather meant to put the Kurdistan Region under pressure in the process of forming the new government of Iraq. 

“But we understand that this is a pressure on us as we are moving forward to form the new government in Iraq. The formation of the government has not been the way they wanted; so this is a political pressure on the members of the alliance to basically withdraw from the alliance and let them increase, or at least maintain,  their influence that they have enjoyed throughout these years in Iraq. So basically, one of the reasons for these attacks is to give us a warning.” 

Asked about the recent ruling of Iraq’s Supreme Court on KRG’s oil sector, the Kurdish leader said it was an unconstitutional decision made by an unconstitutional institution, and it meant to put the KRG under pressure for political reasons only. 

“Iraq changed from a central government to a federal government but the law hasn’t changed. We have a new constitution, the new constitution calls for a hydrocarbon law. In 2007 again, we tried to pass that law at the federal level, and it was once again the federal government that did not go ahead to pass the law in the parliament. So a lawless institutions, disregarding the constitution, making decisions on an entity that has acted according to the constitution and has a law; so who is illegal. An illegal unconstitutional institution is making decisions on us that are absolutely constitutional and lawful,” the prime minister added. 

Below is the transcription of PM Masrour Barzani’s comments during the panel: 

In different regions, people have different definitions for danger. Whether the world is a dangerous place to all or not would depend on who you are asking. Of course there is danger against your own existence; it’s about security challenges, economic challenges, food security. All of these can be challenges that we all face at different times. Its the players that actually pose the danger against others. So it’s the behavior of the actors that can be at least studied to see what the intentions are and what they want to do. 

In our case we see that there are a lot of interferences in our region; an unfortunately sometimes when you see injustice, when you see inequality, there is always the possibility of different reactions to it. And its the clash of these sort of behaviors that sometimes leads to a dangerous situation. In our case, it’s always been a dangerous situation for us. And today, with the deterioration of the security in the other parts of the world, the level of danger in our region has also increased. When people feel poorer, they are more likely to do irrational things and their behaviors change according to that. 

We have seen that in the past with the rise of terrorist organizations. One of the reasons why some people collaborate with terrorism is when they feel injustice and inequality; they feel a pressure. And that what really leads people to take actions. That’s also true for the states. States are also looking at their interests; and what is interesting or can be beneficial to a state may be a danger to another. So once again, the definition of danger varies from place to place. But I believe that the world can always be a dangerous place if we don’t control the behavior of the actors. 

We have been victims of these sort of aggression for a long time from different sides and different players. This time, the attack against Erbil was unjustified; the allegations are baseless… Basically they attacked the residence of a private citizen — a businessman. And then, to justify their action they say that they had hit the base of Israelis, which is not true. 

- But Israelis are part of the dialogue?

Absolutely not… I mean they have nothing to do with us. They attacked us in that area but, again, they have to justify it to the international community. We called for an international investigation, we called on the Iraqi federal government, and the parliament, and we have also invited that Iranians to visit the site for themselves if their claims have any truth to it. Of course, it’s absolutely baseless. 

But we understand that this is a pressure on us as we are moving forward to form the new government in Iraq. The formation of the government has not been the way they wanted; so this is a political pressure on the members of the alliance to basically withdraw from the alliance and let them increase, or at least maintain,  their influence that they have enjoyed throughout these years in Iraq. So basically, one of the reasons for these attacks is to give us a warning. Also, to go back to the energy, we are one of the regions that are flourishing and we are trying to become the main player in providing energy not only to the region, but hopefully to Europe and to the rest of the world as we are discovering more oil and gas fields. Now we are trying to develop those areas; this may not be in the interest of the Iranians in this case. So that may also be another reason. But we are trying our best to fill some of the gaps that this war has left behind in the world. 

In my speech yesterday I also said that we are trying to at least provide some of the shortages that exists in the world. Now, the question is: are we allowed to go and do that? Because again, we see that not only the rockets are trying to stop us, but there are also institutions that have been manipulated  and they are trying to stop us from doing what we think would be in the best interest of our region and the rest of Iraq and also the world. 

We are negotiating with the federal government, we are negotiating with the ministry of oil, and we are insisting that we need to preserve our constitutional rights. The constitution stipulates and tells us exactly what our rights are how we should act, and also the Iraqi government knows that. So this really has nothing to do with the constitution and the legality of the process. It’s a political decision, made by political appointees to basically put pressure on us  at this stage. 

First of all, we have to be careful who is saying we are selling oil illegally. We have a constitution, our rights are very clearly shown in the constitution, and we know exactly what we can do and what we can’t do. And we have a law that was passed in 2007 by our parliament whereas the federal government does not have a hydrocarbon federal law and it stills refers to the law of 1976 from the previous regime. Iraq changed from a central government to a federal government but the law hasn’t changed. We have a new constitution, the new constitution calls for a hydrocarbon law. In 2007 again, we tried to pass that law at the federal level, and it was once again the federal government that did not go ahead to pass the law in the parliament. So a lawless institutions, disregarding the constitution, making decisions on an entity that has acted according to the constitution and has a law; so who is illegal. An illegal unconstitutional institution is making decisions on us that are absolutely constitutional and lawful. 

And in this case have also this interpretation to international lawyers and courts, and they have already decided that what the KRG is doing is absolutely constitutional and there is nothing illegal about it. We have given assurances to our trading partners, to the IOCs that are operating in Kurdistan that Kurdistan will remain committed to honor the contracts that we have with all of our partners. 

The US is a great friend. They have been supporting us throughout these years. We would like them to continue supporting us, and, of course, we do support any peace initiative anywhere in the world. But we don’t want peace for someone be on the expense of the stability and the security of someone else. We hope that the United States understands that they have many friends  here in the Middle East but the relationship has to be based on mutual respect and maintenance of the values and interests  that serve both sides.

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