Recently the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi traveled to the Turkish capital of Ankara to hold a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Turkish national hardships. The two leaders spoke about the current water crisis, oil trade, the drop in the Turkish lira’s value, and the re-opening of Turkish consulates in both Basra and Mosul. A statement released by the Iraqi prime ministry read that, “In the meeting, strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries, the topic of water, security, electricity, energy, economic, culture and conditions of the area were discussed.” Oil is the word on the two nations’ minds though — as both stand to profit and the exchange may also lead to solutions for other issues as well.
The Iraqi government closed down the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline in October 2017 when the Hashd al-Shaabi took over the region. The pipeline had previously moved 300,000 barrels of oil per day into Turkey. Now, Prime Minister Abadi claims he is ready to begin exporting oil again. Admittedly, the export and refinement infrastructure will likely need to be repaired first due to the poor state much of the necessary machinery is in. Abadi has been looking to source local national companies for this work, a decision that is supported by parliamentary winner Muqtada al-Sadr.
After the meeting in Turkey, Prime Minister Abadi said that, “Iraq is at the stage of analyzing offers. The Turkish side is keen on completing this pipeline to provide Turkey with Iraqi oil from Kirkuk. The current existing pipeline could be activated quickly to pump Iraqi oil from Kirkuk through Turkey. This will bolster cooperation between the two countries in this field.” He had hinted at his wish to open a new border crossing into Turkey in the past; presently the only border crossing, located in Ibrahim Khalil, is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Abadi added that, “Concerning the border crossing between the two countries in Fishkhabur, we are working on it. It is important for us for it to be a direct crossing.”
Turkish President Erdogan echoed Abadi’s claims that meetings are being held in an effort to resolve the issue. Erdogan stated that, “The border crossing will benefit both Iraq and our country. I believe the necessary steps will be taken in this regard. A second crossing border is of importance. Business between Turkey and Iraq was $11 billion in 2017. This is not enough.”