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Iran-affiliated militia Hashd al-Shaabi is smuggling oil from the Kirkuk province in Iraq into Iran, a former Iraqi MP told media. Amira Zangana added that the group raided houses in the city of Kirkuk, looting money, jewelry, and sometimes even cars.
"The militias of Hashd al-Shaabi have occupied the oil fields in Kirkuk, and according to sources, they smuggle the oil to Iran through Sulaimaniya, and of course the October 16 traitors are also involved in this," Basnews quoted Zangana as saying.
The “traitors” are a group within the patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the biggest parties in the semi-autonomous region, who have been accused by other political entities of collaborating with the Baghdad forces that took control of Kirkuk and the oil fields around it in an offensive following an ill-fated independence referendum.
This is not the first report of oil smuggling by the Shia militia. In April this year, a Baghdad MP told Kurdish media that Hashd al-Shaabi was using the money it gets for the smuggled oil to strengthen its positions in Iraq while the government in Baghdad remains oblivious. The militias are responsible for ensuring the security of Kirkuk and surrounding areas and are using this position to illegally pump oil from the local fields and sell it in Iran.
But Hashd al-Shaabi is not the only one smuggling oil, it seems. Last year, a member of the Iraqi Integrity Commission, a body responsible for investigating corruption in state agencies, told local news outlet Rudaw that “Oil smuggling is a serious thing in Iraq. We’ve investigated many such cases with the ministry of oil and there’re political parties that carry out smuggling of crude oil.”
The official, Ardalan Nuraddin, went on to say that billions of dollars worth of crude had been smuggled from Iraq in the five years to 2017, with corruption rife in the oil ministry of OPEC’s second-largest producer, and the government is powerless to stop it.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.