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Iraq after the US Withdrawal … Speaking at TEPAV, Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group stated that Exxon contract was a test for Iraq in turbulence after the withdrawal.
Haber resmi
19/12/2011 - Viewed 1360 times


ANKARA – After last US troops withdrew from Iraq, the current state of affairs in the country was addressed with a meeting held at TEPAV on December 19, 2011, Monday. The roundtable meeting titled “After the US Withdrawal: Turkey, Iraq and the Energy Question” hosted Joost Hiltermann, Deputy Programme Director for the MENA, International Crisis Group, who recently paid a visit to Iraq.

Focusing first on Syria, which he considered important with respect to recent developments in the region and particularly to Iraq, Hiltermann stated that Turkey had to be careful deciding between being coercive and being indifferent about the Syrian issue that had become tense.

Pointing at Muslim Brothers that gained dominance first in Egypt and Morocco and then in Libya and Yemen, he said this “most strong and organized group in the Middle East” could be successful in Syria, as well.

How would the developments in Syria affect Turkey?

Stating that Turkey can assume a determinant role with respect to Syria, Hiltermann argued that Syrian regime did not have much time and that if the Assad regime fell, the power of Iran and Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki would decline whereas Kurds could gain relative strength.

In this light, he called the current state in Iraq after the withdrawal of the US as “turbulence.” He maintained that since 2007, Turkey had fairly close relationship with Kurds in Northern Iraq, and with Sunni politicians, which could bring an important economic potential for Turkey. A beneficial partnership for both of the sides could be developed.

“Exxon contract is a first …”

Recalling the contract oil company Exxon Mobil signed with the Kurdish Regional Government to explore oil in the Northern Iraq, he stressed that the contact, a first for a company operating in the south region, was not recognized by Baghdad, which claimed that the contract violated a previous contract between Exxon and Baghdad. He maintained that this was a test for both sides and added that the reserves were located in areas whose status was yet to be determined.

Concerning the US plans in Iraq, Hiltermann stressed that the US was expected to emphasize the military partnership and economic partnership with Iraq and drew attention to the presidential election of 2012.

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