Iraqi Kurds Smuggling Oil Through Israel to Circumvent Baghdad
Kurdistan’s semi-autonomous government in Iraq (KRG) has been smuggling oil through Israel in order to bypass sales being monitored by the central government in Baghdad, Al-Jazeera reported on Thursday.
KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami said that the oil was being smuggled out of the country in order to raise the necessary funds to enable the Kurdish militias to continue fighting ISIS.
He said that one of the many methods used by the Kurds to avoid detection by the central government in Baghdad was funneling the oil through Israel. The purchasers of Kurdish oil took tankers to the Israeli port of Ashkelon, where they were loaded into storage facilities and later resold to European buyers, according to Al-Jazeera.
The subterfuge was necessary, said Hawrami, because the central government in Baghdad had been financially discriminating against the KRG for a long time, and when the Kurds did not receive the 17% of the Iraqi national budget to which they are entitled, they started calculating alternative ways of making money, such as selling oil independently.