Kurds’ EU gas deal irks Baghdad on eve of U.S. transition

KRG's new gas deal with Europe fuels conflict with central government over oil sector control and exposes gap in American understanding of key Iraqi issue.
Kurds’ EU gas deal irks Baghdad on eve of U.S. transition
US President Barack Obama reads his speech to photographers after delivering an address to the nation on the end of combat operations in Iraq from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on August 31, 2010. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Baghdad is scrambling to re-establish federal control over oil and gas exports, after Iraq’s Kurdish region announced a deal to export natural gas to Europe, the same week America officially ends combat operations in Iraq.

In a statement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the German utilities company RWE announced it would help develop northern Iraqi natural gas for export via the Nabucco pipeline to Europe. Taken by surprise, Iraq’s Oil Ministry quickly released its own statement condemning the deal.

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