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Iraq Moves to Take Control of Kurdistan's Finances


Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

The Federal Supreme Court in Baghdad has ordered the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to relinquish all oil and non-oil revenue to the Iraqi Federal government, amid the ongoing dispute between Baghdad and Erbil over the latter’s unilateral oil operations and separate contracts with foreign oil companies. Baghdad has invalidated oil company contracts with the KRG and is not honoring them in the “transfer” to federal hands. In other words, Baghdad is trying to renegotiate these contracts in its favor and from a clear position of leverage. But the latest move this week is the most significant one yet, with Baghdad effectively seeking to take control of the KRG’s finances completely—not just oil revenue.

The Baghdad-Erbil dispute is also happening right now against the backdrop of a dangerous cocktail of pro-Iranian and pro-U.S. forces that threaten to destabilize Iraq. In January, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched missiles on Erbil, striking what they claimed to be Israeli spy headquarters there. This week, KRG Prime Minister Barzani warned that the pro-Iranian militias are more dangerous than ISIS. At the same time, though, pro-Iranian militias in Iraq have paused attacks on U.S. troops under orders from Iran, which is meant to signal that Iran does not want the conflict to expand.

After targeting a British ship earlier this week, forcing its crew to flee, and launching…

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