Serekaniye and Kur­dis­tan Oil pol­icy

De­spite in­ten­si­fied eco­nomic re­la­tion KRG and Turkey may face each other in Syria

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL - By Azad Amin

Serikaniye is sit­u­ated in a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant lo­ca­tion in Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan, and is wit­ness­ing heavy clashes be­tween Kur­dish forces and some groups claimed to be within Free Syr­ian Army. Ab­dul­ha­keem Bashar, the first pres­i­dent of the Kur­dish Na­tional Coun­cil (KNC) and the sec­re­tary of the Kur­dish Demo­cratic Party in Syria (Al Party), in an in­ter­view with Ru­daw on Fe­bru­ary, 8, clas­si­fied th­ese groups as ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions as­so­ci­ated with the Syr­ian Regime: ‘Serekaniye is an alarm that shows the ex­is­tence of groups that are hos­tile to­wards the Kurds and want to elim­i­nate their cause. Some ter­ror­ist groups have come to Serekaniye af­ter the with­drawal of the Syr­ian regime from that town. They are eas­ing the pres­sure on the Syr­ian regime. If th­ese groups really care about fight­ing the Syr­ian regime, then they should go and fight in Da­m­as­cus and Aleppo where the real fight is. Th­ese fight­ers are mak­ing a big mis­take by fight­ing in Serekaniye, be­cause by do­ing so they help the Syr­ian regime and cre­ate a Kur­dish-Arab war. This will change the path of the Syr­ian rev­o­lu­tion dra­mat­i­cally. There is an Alaw­ite-Sunni con­flict in Syria, and if a Kur­dishArab con­flict is cre­ated, then the Syr­ian regime will never col­lapse. For th­ese rea­sons, I be­lieve that th­ese groups are ei­ther very nar­row-minded or they are work­ing for the As­sad regime. I hope this is­sue will be solved po­lit­i­cally; oth­er­wise, as the AI party, we will have a dif­fer­ent re­ac­tion.’ Bashar fur­ther­more claimed that Turkey fa­cil­i­tates and sup­ports th­ese groups in their fight against the Kurds in Serekaniye: ‘We treat Turkey as a friendly coun­try, but un­for­tu­nately it fa­cil­i­tates the move­ment of the Arabs into Serekaniye. This means that Turkey wants to harm the Kur­dish cause. But, this will only in­crease prob­lems for Turkey, be­cause it will com­pli­cate the Kur­dish is­sue in­side Turkey, and the rad­i­cal Is­lamists will set­tle on the Turk­ish bor­der. The Turk­ish government might not be in­volved in this, but ac­cord­ing to the in­for­ma­tion we ob­tained, there are signs of involvement of the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Or­ga­ni­za­tion (MIT) in this is­sue.’

It is ironic that Turkey acts as a force for good, and ve­he­mently con­demns the Syr­ian regime, led by Bashar al-As­sad, while sup­port­ing mili­ti­a­men who are ac­cused of at­tack­ing Kur­dish peo­ple in Syria. Turkey seems to be pur­su­ing a con­tra­dic­tory, and am­bigu­ous pol­icy in Syria. De­spite this, the Turk­ish government has been im­prov­ing its re­la­tions with Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, and has been keen to act as forth­com­ing in the past months while in­tend­ing to re­solve the mil­i­tary con­flict with PKK si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Serekeniye is strate­gi­cally im­por­tant, which is why war might erupt be­tween Kurds and Arabs in that re­gion. Turkey sup­ports anti-Kur­dish sen­ti­ments within Serekeniye, and if this area is con­trolled by Arab forces it would re­duce Kur­dish in­flu­ence in the area dras­ti­cally be­cause it sep­a­rates Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan into two parts, cut­ting com­mu­ni­ca­tions, trans­porta­tion and there­fore move­ment be­tween the two parts will cease. This puts things in per­spec­tive, and why this area has been given sig­nif­i­cant at­ten­tion by dif­fer­ent par­ties. Ab­dul­ha­keem Bashar has said, “We will send our forces to Serekeniye if nec­es­sary. This is our sa­cred duty, for which we are ready to sac­ri­fice”. The Kurds are de­ter­mined to not give up on Serekeniye with­out a fight.

Serekaniye’s on­go­ing vi­o­lence and in­sta­bil­ity could po­ten­tially jeop­ar­dize the im­proved re­la­tions be­tween Turkey and Kur­dis­tan re­gion. If it is proven that Turk­ish as- sis­tance is fa­cil­i­tat­ing the fight­ing be­tween Arabs and Kurds, it is un­likely that the eco­nomic and other ben­e­fits be­tween Turkey and Kur­dis­tan Re­gion will be suc­cess­ful in the fu­ture. Given that Turkey does not want to rely on Rus­sia and Iran for oil, it is likely that they will tread their steps care­fully.

Po­lit­i­cal devel­op­ment in Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan, and the sta­tus of Syr­ian Kurds in a post-As­sad pe­riod is far more sig­nif­i­cant for the fu­ture of Kur­dish peo­ple than Kur­dis­tan re­gion's eco­nomic re­la­tions with Turkey. Iraqi Kur­dis­tan is closely in­ter­twined with Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan's po­lit­i­cal sta­tus. For­ma­tion of a fed­eral struc­ture in postAs­sad Syria im­proves the sta­tus of Kurds, and pro­vides them with sov­er­eign rights while re­in­forc­ing Kur­dis­tan re­gion.

Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan is an ex­is­ten­tial ques­tion for the Kur­dis­tan re­gion. Any at­tempt to sup­press the Kurds in Syria is to be con­sid­ered an at­tempt to de­stroy the Kur­dis­tan re­gion. Turkey on the other hand has its own sen­si­tiv­i­ties in Syria. Right from the be­gin­ning Turk­ish pol­icy vis-à-vis Syria was mostly de­ter­mined by the Turk­ish con­cern of Syr­ian Kur­dish po­ten­tial po­lit­i­cal gains in post-As­sad Syria. Turkey pur­sued a pol­icy not to al- low rep­e­ti­tion of a sec­ond Iraq. For­ma­tion of an­other fed­eral struc­ture and an­other Kur­dish po­lit­i­cal en­tity by its doorstep could cre­ate se­ri­ous prob­lems for Turkey’s own Kur­dish na­tional ques­tion. Turk­ish pol­icy to re­duce the Kur­dish na­tional ques­tion to a ques­tion of mi­nor­ity rights and re­solve it around the con­cept of cit­i­zen­ship will not be suc­cess­ful should the Kurds in Syria have na­tional-sov­er­eign rights.

With its rich nat­u­ral re­sources Kur­dis­tan re­gion needs Turkey to ex­port its oil and gas to the global mar­ket. Kur­dis­tan re­gion can be­come eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent from Bagh­dad if its en­ergy sources are ex­ported. For this rea­son a new pipe­line is un­der con­struc­tion de­spite the threats from Bagh­dad and dis­ap­proval from the US. Both Turkey and Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government, KRG are de­ter­mined to con­struct this pipe­line. Very re­cently KRG’s Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter, Ashti Hawrami stressed that Kur­dis­tan re­gion will press ahead with build­ing its own ex­port pipe­line to Turkey de­spite the US ob­jec­tions. "We want to have an oil pipe­line for our­selves," Hawrami said at a news con­fer­ence in the re­gional cap­i­tal Er­bil. "It is cur­rently in the works and we will con­tinue un­til it is com­pleted."

Turkey on the other hand needs to have a se­cure new sup­ply to re­duce its de­pen­dence on Iran and Rus­sia. Rich re­sources of Kur­dis­tan re­gion and its ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion to Turkey car­ries po­ten­tial for Turkey to be the ex­port route to the global mar­ket. Turkey will not only have ac­cess to a se­cure sup­ply but will also ben­e­fit from hav­ing a pipe­line trans­port through its own soil.

In­flu­en­tial Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter, Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, re­cently con­firmed that his coun­try’s co­op­er­a­tion with Kur­dis­tan re­gion on en­ergy fields will con­tinue and en­hance de­spite the fierce op­po­si­tion from Bagh­dad and US ob­jec­tion.

Some crit­ics stress that KRG’s close in­te­gra­tion with Turkey on en­ergy sec­tor po­ten­tially makes KRG de­pen­dent solely on Turkey. US on the other hand ob­ject this en­ergy co­op­er­a­tion be­tween KRG and Turkey fear­ing that it may dis­in­te­grate Iraq. "If Turkey and Iraq fail to op­ti­mize their eco­nomic re­la­tions... There could be more vi­o­lent con­flict in Iraq and the forces of dis­in­te­gra­tion within Iraq could be em­bold­ened," U.S. Am­bas­sador to Turkey Fran­cis J. Ric­cia­r­done said re­cently in Ankara. US urge Bagh­dad and Er­bil to rec­on­cile on Hy­dro­car­bon law as so­lu­tion for the ten­sion be­tween the two cap­i­tals. He fur­ther em­pha­sized that "the Iraqis have been strug­gling to pass a hy­dro­car­bons law. It is very im­por­tant that they suc­ceed in that." US should re­al­ize that it is not KRG’s oil pol­icy that dis­in­te­grates Iraq but the cen­tral­ized and dic­ta­to­rial pol­icy of Nuri al-Ma­liki that pre­pares the ground for Iraq’s dis­in­te­gra­tion.

En­ergy co­op­er­a­tion be­tween KRG and Turkey may face ob­sta­cles over the par­ties con­flict­ing in­ter­ests over Syria. In or­der to fur­ther im­prove re­la­tions and bet­ter eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion Turkey must re­spect the wish and de­mands of Syr­ian Kurds to be free from a dic­ta­to­rial regime.

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