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US Senator Schumer called for support of an independent Kurdish State in northern Iraq, but where is his call to support Catalonia? Meanwhile, former Exxon CEO Tillerson is the head of the US State Dept. and Exxon has been literally caught in the middle of the Kurdish-Iraq conflict. No oil conflict in Catalonia. Catalonia is aiming to go totally renewable, while saddled with unwanted Italian (and partially Madrid) owned nuclear power stations. However, an independent Catalonia would be in control of both old and new borders, and honest Catalan police would impede mafia flows of illegal goods, migration, money-laundering into Spain and on into Europe. Because of the Pyrenees mountains there are only two main transportation routes from Spain into Europe and the most important runs through Catalonia.

Schumer Calls on Administration to Back An Independent Kurdish State September 27, 2017 Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today released the following statement in support of an independent Kurdish State after an overwhelming 93% of Kurds voted Monday in favor of independence from Iraq:

“Monday’s historic vote in Iraqi Kurdistan should be recognized and respected by the world, and the Kurdish people of northern Iraq have my utmost support. I believe the Kurds should have an independent state as soon as possible and that the position of the United States government should be to support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state.

“Over the last two decades, the Kurds have been one of our strongest and most supportive partners on the ground in the fight against terrorism, and we have relied on the Peshmerga time and again. They have also stood up for the rights of minorities in a region where the oppression of minorities is too often the rule and conflict is often the result.

And furthermore, the United States should stand for self-determination for our strongest partners. The Kurds are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Middle East without a homeland and they have fought long and hard for one. Despite this, the Kurds continue to get a raw deal and are told to wait for tomorrow, which is why it’s past due that the world, led by the United States, immediately back a political process to address the aspirations of the Kurds.

“In the months ahead, I hope all Iraqis will engage in a dialogue and peacefully determine the best way to accommodate the well-deserved and legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds.  Continued security cooperation between the Kurdish and Iraqi security forces – particularly on terrorism – are essential to any transition. Iraqi’s neighboring countries, however, led by despots who all oppose a Kurdish State because it threatens the status quo and their self-interests, need to respect the need for the Kurds—and the Iraqis–to determine their own future.” https://www.democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/schumer-calls-on-administration-to-back-an-independent-kurdish-state

Iraqi Kurds vote in historic independence referendum, shrugging off threats
Posted:Mon, 25 Sep 2017 02:23:40 -0400
ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – Voting started on Monday in an independence referendum organized by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, ignoring the threats of the Kurds’ neighbors and fears of further instability and violence across the Middle East.http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/Reuters/worldNews/~3/Ky9ikbBY2fM/iraqi-kurds-vote-in-historic-independence-referendum-shrugging-off-threats-idUSKCN1C00CV

Tillerson urges Iraq, Kurds to resolve conflict through dialogue

Posted:Mon, 23 Oct 2017 16:52:54 -0400
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan region on Monday to resolve their conflict over Kurdish self-determination and disputed territories through dialogue.

From US EIA (Energy Info Agency), “Country Analysis Brief: Iraq Last Updated: April 28, 2016

Issues between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the official ruling body of the semiautonomous region in northern Iraq that is predominantly Kurdish, has been involved in disputes with national authorities related to sovereignty.

The plan by Iraq’s North Oil Company (NOC) to boost production at the Kirkuk field in northern Iraq at the edge of the KRG region has been met with objections by the KRG, which insists that development plans at this field require KRG cooperation and approval.

More generally, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil insists that all hydrocarbon contracts must be signed with the national government, and that all oil produced in the KRG region be marketed and shipped via State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), Iraq’s oil exporting arm.

However, the KRG passed its own hydrocarbons law in 2007 in the absence of a national Iraqi law governing investment in hydrocarbons. In late 2011, the KRG challenged the authority of the national government when it signed oil production-sharing agreements with ExxonMobil to develop blocks in northern Iraq, some of which are in disputed border areas. The KRG has since signed additional contracts with major oil producers such as Chevron, Gazprom, and Total. ExxonMobil withdrew from some of its projects in Iraq, notably the Common Seawater Supply Project, and the company had been asked by the Iraqi government to choose between its involvement in the West Qurna 1 oilfield and its projects in the KRG. Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) had also been asked to withdraw from its involvement in the Block 9 concession that was awarded during the fourth bidding round because of disputes regarding Turkey’s involvement in KRG energy projects.

Past agreements to export oil independently and via Iraqi state-owned infrastructure from Iraqi Kurdistan have fallen apart because of payment disagreements, security problems, and delays building infrastructure required to transport the amounts of oil promised.

Oil exports directly from the KRG have been another contentious issue. The KRG has been exporting crude oil and condensate to Turkey and Iran by truck. In May 2014, the KRG started exporting crude oil via a newly built independent pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port.

Northern production Oil production in northern Iraq is a contentious topic because of an ongoing dispute between the central Iraqi government in Baghdad and the KRG over the vast amount of oil resources in the Kirkuk structure. The tension and confusion over northern production has escalated since the ISIL offensive in 2014.

Before 2014, Iraq (Baghdad) produced most of the oil in the north, mainly at the Kirkuk field (Avana and Baba Domes) and Bai Hassan field, along with other smaller fields. However, after the closure of the IT pipeline in March 2014 and the Baiji refinery in June 2014, northern production lacked its traditional commercial outlets. As a result, the KRG took over operations at the Avana Dome, a part of the Kirkuk field, and Bai Hassan in July 2014 and started exporting the oil through its newly built independent pipeline to Ceyhan, Turkey (Table 1). During this time, Baghdad’s NOC continued to operate some of the northern fields, although the production was exported via KRG’s pipeline and marketed by the KRG.

The KRG began transferring some of the crude oil at Turkey’s Ceyhan terminal to SOMO in late 2014 in accordance with a deal made between Baghdad and the KRG in December 2014. The two sides agreed that: (1) the KRG give 250,000 b/d of the crude oil produced in its territory to SOMO at the Ceyhan terminal to market the crude, (2) Iraq (Baghdad) export 300,000 b/d of Kirkuk crude through KRG’s pipeline to Ceyhan, and (3) Iraq (Baghdad) resume federal payments to the KRG that will amount to a 17% share of Iraq’s federal budget and pay KRG’s Peshmerga military forces $1 billion. The deal was intended to allow SOMO to reclaim marketing control over much of Iraq’s northern crude exports.

The deal has since collapsed. KRG oil allotments to SOMO decreased substantially in June 2015 and the last one was given in August 2015. The KRG started to directly sell all northern oil because it was receiving much less than the 17% of the overall federal budget from Baghdad. In response, in March 2016, the federal NOC stopped pumping oil into KRG’s pipeline, upon guidance from Baghdad, in an attempt to leverage negotiations on northern oil revenue sharing with the KRG. The NOC-operated fields were producing between 150,000 and 200,000 b/d, of which now most is being reinjected into the oil wells to maintain natural gas production for local power generation.29

Crude Oil Exports In 2015, India was the largest importer of Iraqi crude oil, importing slightly more than China. About 85% of Iraq’s crude oil exports came from the country’s southern export terminals along the Persian Gulf in 2015, which export Iraq’s Basra light and heavy crude grades….<” Read more here: https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/analysis_includes/countries_long/Iraq/iraq.pdf

Schumer Statement on Reports of Military Skirmishes Between Iraqi Government and Kurdish Forces October 16, 2017
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today released the following statement on reports of military skirmishes between the Iraqi Government and Kurdish Forces
“Every ounce of energy and resources the Iraqi government and the Kurdish Peshmerga spend fighting each other should instead be spent fighting ISIS and terrorism in the region. This is especially true when those resources are those sent by the United States I urge the administration to immediately initiate a dialogue between the two sides to ensure a peaceful resolution between the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurds that doesn’t jeopardize the ongoing fight against ISIS, put at risk the gains made to date, and determines the best way to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds
.” https://www.democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/schumer-statement-on-reports-of-military-skirmishes-between-iraqi-government-and-kurdish-forces-