The Washington Post reports: Iraq’s Kurdish region has begun to sell oil independently of the central government, a move that is exacerbating divisions in the country as it struggles to turn back Islamic State militants.
The Kurdish region last month stopped transferring oil to the state as it had promised to do under a landmark deal in 2014. Kurdish officials argued that payments from Baghdad had not been sufficient. Instead, the region exported more than 600,000 barrels a day itself, Kurdish and Iraqi officials said, a step that Baghdad considers illegal.
The dispute threatens to widen differences in a country already effectively split into three parts: the Kurdish north, areas in southern and central Iraq controlled by the Shiite-led government, and territory in the north and west seized by the Islamic State.
The collapse of the oil deal also risks ruining one of the key achievements of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who was credited with improving relations with the Kurds after years of acrimony. [Continue reading…]