2002 December 28 Saturday
Turkey Wants Iraq Oil Share From US

Turkey is driving a hard bargain in exchange for Turkish support in the coming US military campaign for regime change in Iraq.

The Turkish daily Sabah said yesterday that Turkey informed the US officially that it wants a share of the Iraqi oil at a rate of 10%, noting that in case that Washington approves the said request, Ankara will get a 5.5 billion dollars of the oil revenues annually.

The Turkish demand has its basis in a 1926 treaty between Turkey, Great Britain and Iraq. Turkey has never fully renounced its claim to Mosul.

On 5 June 1926, Turkey signed an agreement with Great Britain and Iraq, according to which Iraqi sovereignty on the vilayet of Mosul was acknowledged. In exchange, Turkey should receive 10% of the income produced by oil extraction in the area for 25 years. The Turkish Parliament ratified the agreement but Turkey never totally renounced to sovereignty over Mosul. President Demirel stated in 1995: 'Mosul still belongs to us, and security of Turkey requires definition of new borders with Iraq.'

Many Mosul area Kurds in the 1920s decided they'd be better off under Iraq than under Turkey due to harsh Turkish treatment of the Kurds.

Sheik Said of Piran led a major uprising in February 1925 aimed at the creation of an independent Kurdish state. The Turkish army crushed Sheik Said's rebellion by the end of April 19259 but the effects of this rebellion remained on Turkish foreign policy. At the time, there was disagreement between the Turkish government and the United Kingdom, which had Iraq under its mandate, over the town of Mosul which had oil resources. The Turkish authorities believed that the United Kingdom was inciting the Kurds of Turkey to put pressure on Turkey to give up the oil resources of Mosul. However, it would not be in the interest of the British to encourage such an uprising in Turkish Kurdistan which aimed at the formation of an independent Kurdish state. The creation of an independent Kurdish state in the north of Kurdistan would threaten the territorial integrity of Iraq which was under the British mandate and had its own Kurdish minority. The Kurds in Iraq, apart from their rich oil resources, were essential for the United Kingdom to make up the balance of power in Iraq, and to force the Iraqi government into submission.10 In fact, the defeat of the Sheik Said rebellion was in the interest of the United Kingdom.

The bloody suppression of the Kurds by the Turkish government had its effect on the status of Mosul. The harsh measures against the Kurds of Turkey compelled many Kurds of Mosul vilayet to favour joining the Iraqi state. This was a reason for the League of Nations to award Mosul to Iraq. This led to the Anglo-Turkish Treaty of June 1926, in which Mosul was annexed to Iraq. Turkey was the loser in that game but Britain and Turkey agreed that they would oppose the emergence of a Kurdish entity in Turkey while allowing it to happen in Iraq.11 The suppression of Sheik Said's rebellion and the fear of further Kurdish uprisings forced Turkey to soften its foreign policy and give up Mosul in exchange for the security of the existing borders. Sixteen of the eighteen articles of the Anglo-Turkish Treaty of June 1926 dealt with measures on border security and control of the Kurds.12 Turkey's stance with relation to the allies was not entirely antagonistic. During Sheik Said's uprising, the French permitted Turkey to use the Baghdad railway which passed through Syria to transport the Turkish troops13 This assisted Turkey's defeat of the Kurdish insurgency. Despite the defeat of Sheik Said the Kurds did not give up their hopes and further uprisings followed.

The Kurds are still a large portion of the population around the northern Iraqi oil fields in spite of Saddam's program of forcing the Kurds out of the area while bringing in Arabs to replace them. When Saddam's regime falls many of those displaced Kurds are going to want to return to the houses and apartments that they were evicted from by Saddam's regime. This will cause conflict between the Arabs and Kurds in the Mosul region. At the same time Turkey is pushing its own interests in northern Iraq both to get money and to make sure that a Kurdish state doesn't gain so much autonomy that it becomes an example that emboldens Turkish Kurds to push for more autonomy.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 December 28 02:28 PM 


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