Nineveh for Christians? Let’s Wait and See
By Judit Neurink
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – “It is one of the greatest moments of my life,” said the Iraqi Minister of Environment Sargon Slewa about the plan of the Iraqi Council of Ministers to establish a province in the Nineveh Plain. Assyrian politicians in and out of Iraq have lobbied for years to give Christians autonomy there.
Slewa, who is a member of the Iraqi Parliament and the Assyrian Democratic Organization that represents Christians in Iraq, requested the establishment of the province. It is one of the three possible provinces the Iraqi cabinet decided to prepare a study on, besides Fallujah and Tuz Khurmatu.
The Nineveh Plain has the largest population of Christians in Iraq. They make up around 40 percent of the population of the planned new province. They now live in a so-called disputed area: Iraqi territory that Kurdistan claims for its autonomous region.
The approval of a study is a first step for the Iraqi Christian dream of governing themselves to come true. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein following the 2003 US-led invasion, Christians have been targeted by violence, and they highly value that their proposed province would have its own police and army to guarantee safety.
“This decision was taken to insure the continued existence of our community in the region. There is much work to be done, but this was the main step and the most difficult hurdle,” Sargon Slewa told the Assyrian press agency, AINA.
Yet no celebrations were recorded in Iraq. Most Christians reacted cautiously to the news.
“Yes, you may congratulate me, but I do not believe it will really happen,” says Salim Kako, a former Christian member of the Kurdistan Parliament. He thinks the announcement is part of the election campaign for the upcoming Iraqi parliament, and is afraid it might not get anywhere because of that.
Reactions in the Christian town of Al Qosh, which is to be part of the new province, are quoted as “let’s wait and see.” There are still many hurdles ahead, people sense, as many of Baghdad’s decisions in the past have not been implemented. It might take some time until the infrastructure is in place that is needed for the province to get started.
Iraqi Christians living abroad showed happiness for the step taken. Many suggested that the province could make it possible for many that left to return.
“If implemented, this could change the reality on the ground for Assyrians and put them in a position to have a say on their future in Iraq, hopefully reversing the emigration to the West,” said Afram Barryakoub, the president of the Assyrian Federation of Sweden to AINA.
Since 2004, about half of the Christian population has fled the country, reducing the numbers in Iraq to about 550,000, of whom half are thought to be living in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Dr. Matay Arsan, president of the Assyria Foundation Netherlands, sees the province as an asset for Iraq’s stability. “The Iraqi Arabs and Kurds should realize that allowing the Assyrians to protect themselves and receive a part of Iraq's budget would only prove that they, Kurds and Arabs, care for Iraq and its stability.”
The announcement about a Nineveh province follows a decision taken by the Iraqi parliament recently to recognize the Assyrian and Turkmen languages in Iraq. This allows public and private schools to teach in Assyrian. Next to that, the minister of education will open literacy centres for teaching Assyrian.
At the same time, the Christian exodus still continues. According to the Chaldean Church every day six Assyrian families leave Iraq.
They do not only flee the violence against Christians, the attacks on churches – 73 since 2004 – and the sectarian strife between Shiites and Sunnis. Many who were displaced to safer regions, like Iraqi Kurdistan, have not been able to find stable jobs or income. Generally, the impression is that the measures will not be able to convince Christians to stay.
The plan for a Nineveh province may in itself even lead to sectarian strife. Mosul’s governor, Athil al-Nujaifi, recently mentioned the establishment of an autonomous province of Nineveh as a solution for the problems of the Sunnis in Iraq – not mentioning the Christians at all.
Sunnis feel discriminated by the Shiite majority, and protests have been going on for over a year. To Al Monitor, Nujaifi spoke of the despair among Sunnis, who feel that their situation will not improve. For that reason, he requested “a new project that has specific features”: the establishment of a Nineveh province.
At the same time, the province is referred to as the Nineveh Plain of Talafar, linking the new province to the (Shiite) Turkmen population that is living in the area around Talafar, and making it of interest to three major power groups in Iraq.
What Are the Prospects for Syria’s Kurds After Assad?
By Ari Mamshae
The Democratic Union Party (PYD), which was able to take control of the country’s Kurdish regions in a deal with the Damascus regime, faces formidable challenges in sustaining its rule over Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan).
To begin with, Rojava is surrounded by unwelcoming players. In addition, PYD leaders are pursuing policies that are earning them no favors. With the survival of Bashar al-Assad hanging in the balance, the Kurds of Rojava need external support to survive.
Despite the complex predictions of the situation in a post-Assad era, the current internal voices against the Kurds will become louder. The Western-embraced Syrian National Council is denying the Kurds a self-rule region. The Sunni jihadists, who are meanwhile at war with Assad and the Kurds, see Rojava as pro-regime and as infidel Marxists. And even if Assad survives, he will not accept the loose autonomy he granted to the Kurds during the conflict. Therefore, no matter the outcome or who triumphs, Rojava is locked from the west and south.
What remains is the north (Turkey) and east (Iraqi Kurdistan).
For now, Turkey is definitely not happy with yet another Kurdish region on its border, particularly one that is known to be an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This very fact has also impacted foreign support for Rojava, because the European Union and United States consider the PKK a terrorist organization.
Even the PYD’s fight against Islamic rebels, which the US defines as its staunchest enemies, has brought them no support. The PKK and PYD’s anti-Western position and Marxist ideology have impacted Rojava’s international image.
All these have been reasons for the lack of support from the main international powers involved in Syria.
Even Iraqi Kurdistan, where the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is led by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), has so far not enjoyed the good relations with Rojava that it was otherwise supposed to have. The KRG’s main concern about the PYD is its sole grip on power, at the expense of other political parties. The KRG has publicly said that it wants the PYD to cooperate with the main political parties in Rojava and involve them in administration of the region, even its armed forces.
The current situation cannot persist for the PYD. First and foremost, the PYD must know that “unity at home” leads to “victory abroad.” Sharing power with the other Kurdish factions will make a significant contribution to the unity in Rojava. There should be no sole ownership of Rojava. PYD’s reluctance to a fair partnership with the others will be a shot in its own foot. Any inter-Kurdish rivalry means the demise of the administration. Once power-sharing with the other political parties is practiced, more support will be garnered for Rojava from the KRG and KDP.
Is there any Kurdish political party that is not happy with the achievements of the Syrian Kurds? That includes the KDP, which does not turn its back on fellow Kurds when Kurdish identity is at stake. For instance, even during the PYD-KDP disputes, Rojava continued to receive weapons and money from the KDP for the fight against Islamic rebels. This was declared by PYD leader Salih Muslim himself.
Regarding Turkey, the PYD’s attitude is heavily dependent on the peace process and the PKK’s position. But the PYD must identify Rojava’s own geopolitical realities, since it shares the largest border with Turkey.
The PYD should know that the failure of the peace process in Turkey will not bring it any advantage, should it continue to bear the same position towards Ankara. Turkey absolutely does not want to see the PKK present in Syria and will take any measure to prevent a strengthening of the PKK position there.
No Kurd would want the nascent semi-autonomy in Syria to be lost again.
But to maintain and strengthen control, the PYD needs to change its attitude towards Turkey and not publicly support the PKK. Turkish anxieties must be assuaged, and Ankara must be made to feel that Rojava is not just a PKK-dominated enclave. That will eventually lead to the cutting of Turkish sponsoring of anti-PYD groups. The PYD can offer Turkey a market in Syrian Kurdistan, in exchange for lifting its embargo. Once Turkey feels that Rojava is not a PKK enclave, relations will start to improve.
There is also room for Turkey to change its position towards Rojava. Witness the dramatic change of Turkey’s relations with Iraqi Kurdistan since 2007, when 200,000 Turkish soldiers were on the verge of intervention.
When the PYD differentiates itself from the PKK and promotes better relations with Turkey, international support for the PYD and the Kurdish administration in Syria will also follow, leading to foreign recognition for Syrian Kurdistan. Among key things that the PYD should do is to abandon the outdated Marxist-Maoist ideology inherited from the PKK. It is hard to approach the Western countries with this ideology.
Once the Kurds in Rojava, particularly the PYD, learn to play these games, a more promising prospect will appear for Kurdish autonomy in Syria.
Ari Mamshae is an MA Candidate in International Studies at the University of Kurdistan-Hewler
The Iraqi army has declared that it gained control over the Jazira area of Khalidiya, which is halfway between Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province. With this gain, the army has acquired a strategic point that al-Qaeda has been using for years to maintain its presence and movement in a complex area that extends from Anbar to Salahuddin and Mosul in the north, and to Baghdad and Diyala in the east.
Summary⎙ Print The Iraqi army declared that it has gained control of the Jazira area of Khalidiya, but maintaining that control will be a challenge.
Author Mushreq Abbas
Posted January 23, 2014
But maintaining control of Khalidiya — which lies on the Euphrates River and includes villages surrounded by agricultural and desert areas stretching south toward the western desert and north toward the Jazira desert in Salahuddin — is not an easy task. Even though al-Qaeda elements have left the area, this does not mean that the government presence there is secure.
The Anbar Operations Command and the Iraqi Interior Ministry confirmed on Jan. 20 that it stormed, with the help of the tribes, the Jazira-Khalidiya area and the town of Albu Bali. They reported that a commander for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and dozens of fighters were killed in the region and the police stations have reopened.
The course of the Khalidiya battle indicates that the ISIS never intended to stay in the area, despite its strategic importance. The ISIS has kept the Iraqi forces and tribal fighters busy for nearly two weeks in that small area.
This view is supported by information provided by tribal sources from within Fallujah. They said that ISIS fighters poured in on Jan. 15, coming from the area of Khalidiya and neighboring Saqlawiya.
The sources confirmed to Al-Monitor that the distribution of armed groups in Fallujah has changed since that date. According to these sources, on Jan. 13 the tribal military council proposed an initiative to end armed groupings in Fallujah, and armed factions in the city generally agreed to the initiative.
But the sources confirm that ISIS fighters in the city, who had raised the ISIS flag until then, requested 48 hours from the tribes to respond to the initiative, which includes three steps:
1. The withdrawal of fighters from all the armed factions and tribes to either their homes or, for the fighters who came from outside Fallujah, to tribal elders’ guest houses.
2. The local police force taking over security in the city for a month as a trial. During that month, the Iraqi army is not to attack the city.
3. If the month passes peacefully, the Fallujah clans and security forces would provide a safe passage out for all gunmen who came from outside the city. During that period, they would not be pursued or questioned.
The ISIS requested time before responding to the initiative. According to the sources, this coincided with an unprecedented influx of fighters to Fallujah. This influx turned the power balance in favor of ISIS fighters, who are better armed and organized compared with the clans and factions allied with them.
Indeed, a few days later, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave a speech that did not refer directly to the tribes’ initiative. But in essence he rejected it and invited them to cooperate with ISIS fighters and threatened to move the battle to Baghdad and the Shiite cities in the south.
According to the same sources, during those days, al-Qaeda fighters and banners appeared in Fallujah, accompanied by the announcement of new instructions about ISIS laws and courts.
The Fallujah developments explain what happened in Khalidiya. The ISIS could not fight a major battle inside Khalidiya for the following three reasons: it is a small farming town with most houses made of mud, allowing easy monitoring of gunmen’s movements; if most of the population in Khalidiya and Albu Bali flee their homes, the area would become an easy artillery target and a death zone; and if no military force imposes permanent control over the Khalidiya farms, which are bound in by the Euphrates River, it would make the area ideal for movement to and from Fallujah, without being a strategic battle zone.
Unlike Khalidiya, Fallujah, which is closer to Baghdad, represents an ideal battlefield model for the long term. Fallujah's large size and good infrastructure give the gunmen opportunities for maneuver and camouflage. Moreover, the fact that Fallujah has a large number of mosques (about 1,000) gives ISIS fighters religiously protected operation centers, since the military will hesitate before striking a mosque.
But withdrawing from Khalidiya does not mean leaving it to the control of government forces and the Sahwa tribes. In practical terms, government forces will not be able to keep large military units in the region for the same reasons that ISIS cannot keep a large number of fighters there. Also, Khalidiya, which was not very prominent in the 2004 Fallujah war against US forces, has always represented a traditional zone of influence for al-Qaeda elements. That makes any regular force there an easy target for daily attacks.
Pending the developments on the ground in Fallujah — whether a big battle breaks out or the tribes impose a peace initiative — Khalidiya will continue to be a zone of hit-and-run attacks, which the ISIS will use to secure its movement and its main human and military supply routes through Jazira or Salahuddin toward Mosul province, and from there to the Syrian border. The nature of the region makes it an important and long-term area of military concern, but not a battle zone as is the case with Fallujah.
Claims may raise the number to 28 of Iraq's provinces and perhaps more
Thu Jan 23 2014 23:54 | (Voice of Iraq)
BAGHDAD - Iraq Press
After the Cabinet approved in principle to convert each of Tal Afar and Tuz and the Nineveh Plain, Fallujah and accepted by the city of Halabja to provinces loud, on Thursday, the vote to claim transfer of other districts, mainly Aziziyah and Essaouira in Wasit, and Kufa, Najaf, and Sinjar in Nineveh and Taji in Baghdad and Khanaqin in Diyala provinces to the new.
And thus may increase the number of governorates of Iraq's 18 provinces to 28, the House of Representatives approved the first five, and the government agreed, and then the voice of the Parliament on the last five.
Observers believe that many of the districts of the Iraqi enjoys the advantages of space and proportion of population that demands on the basis of districts or other ones that Cabinet agreed on turning them into new provinces, and on this basis may increase the number to double the original number of Iraqi governorates over the decades.
Secretary-General of the mass of the white beauty of watermelon demanded Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, on Thursday, making the districts of Aziziyah, Essaouira, Nuahehma a new province with the name of the province green.
He melon in a letter to al-Maliki, according to a statement by his press office received / Iraq Press / copy of which was that "there are claims popular and the signatures of many of the people of the North and Wasit demanding to make their region province in particular," stressing by saying that "This area has all the merits of the province, as well as the fertility of agricultural lands, which represents an easy green. "
He pointed out that watermelon "and dear to the people of Essaouira and Nuahehma of Balhvria and Aldboni and Zubaydiah and Aahimih appeals precedent to make their areas of one province, which made them today re-application and put it however MP Jamal watermelon."
He also joined Sinjar in Nineveh province to the districts, which calls for a population transfer to the provinces.
It was announced the head of the Yazidi Movement in the House of Representatives secretary hilarious Jeju, for presenting a request to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers transferred to the province of Sinjar.
Jeju said in a press conference that he "submitted a request, this morning, to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers transferred to the province of Sinjar district, similar to the recent decisions of the Council of Ministers."
He explained that "the decisions of the Council of Ministers to transfer a number of districts to provinces bold and courageous decisions and taking into account the rights of all Iraqi components."
In Kufa demanded dozens of citizens, transferred to the province of the judiciary has all administrative powers, unleashing a major campaign on the pages of social networking make the emblem of the province of Kufa, Adin, that entitlement historic Kufa of the elements of what has and what has suffered from neglect to be the province with distinction.
He pointed to the deputies and local officials in the district of Taji, north of Baghdad, they're going to raise a similar request to the secretariat of the Council of Ministers to turn to the province of the judiciary.
In Khanaqin, in the province of Diyala left dozens of people from the courts to claim converting it into an independent province n asserting that he has the legal and legislative conditions for declaring an independent province
And met with the approval of the Council of Ministers to turn to the five districts of the provinces of independent Aaataradalt wide range of local governments in the provinces mother.
And threatened the governments of two provinces of Anbar, Nineveh Baalanama in the event of the implementation of the Cabinet decision.
In contrast, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in his weekly, on Wednesday, said that "the issue of forming new provincial legal and constitutional, and not one has the right to challenge it, and that there is a need to transform the districts in the provinces of many things, but we will not rush to this subject, but after studying and tan and legal contexts protect Iraq's sovereignty, unity, there is no problem that we have more than make up the province. "
Osman: the governments of Baghdad and the Kurdistan Asesta to the type of steps towards resolving the outstanding issues between them
Follow-up - and babysit -
MP for the Kurdistan Alliance, Mahmoud Othman said the governments in Baghdad and the Kurdistan region Asesta through delegations put forward views, whether in Baghdad or Arbil to the type of steps towards a solution, noting that it needs time.
The MP said Mahmoud Othman, said that "each party presented its point of view to another, and these views are being studied by both sides, which he so far there is no agreement on the outstanding issues and dilemmas."
"But through press releases and the information we got from the atmosphere was positive by the presence of the two parties who have serious foundations for the kind of steps towards a solution, but it needs time."
And federal governments differ and the Kurdistan region on a number of files, mainly the region's share of the financial budget of the Federal Assembly, and dues oil companies operating in Kurdistan, Erbil and export of oil, as well as oil and gas law.
It is said that last year's budget of Finance passed without the consent or presence of the Kurds, which sparked resentment and created a state of repulsion between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, but the exchange of visits of delegations between Baghdad and Erbil, discussions and dialogues quickly melted the ice between the two parties, to regenerate the problem in the budget Current, which is still waiting for the discussion and study of parliamentary voting, approval under the country's need for calm and doing things
President Barzani: Terrorism was not able to penetrate the Kurdistan Region
Fri Jan 24 2014 03:41 | (Voice of Iraq)
Burksl: in the context of his participation in the meeting of the European Parliament at the official invitation of the Foreign Relations Committee, declared Mr. Massoud Barzani, President of Kurdistan Region to the Syrian crisis has become a problem for a number of countries in the world, explained President Barzani that he is not expected to reach the Geneva Conference 2 easily result.
After delivering his speech to the EU Parliament, the President of the Kurdistan Region answered a number of questions directed to him by journalists, and declared: We hope to succeed in the Geneva Conference 2 address the Syrian crisis.
In response to a question by Al-Arabiya about the address and the reduction of terrorism, said President Barzani: In fact, terrorism has become a phenomenon, a phenomenon that threatens everyone, noting that terrorism can not and will not have access to the Kurdistan Region.
With regard to terrorist threats to the Kurdistan Region, President Barzani said: that terrorism is not a threat to the Kurdistan Region and by, but a threat to all countries in the region and Iraq, and added; True There are currently terrorists in a number of countries and are expanding their activities in Syria and Iraq.
In response to a reporter's question last, regarding the situation in Iraq and the most recent attacks in a number of areas of Iraq, President Barzani: The Kurdistan Region supports all actions that would deal with terrorism, "But should the difference between the response to terrorism and social problems in the region."
This is due to attend President of Kurdistan Region in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which will be attended by many heads of the world, is also scheduled to attend regional president with all of Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a panel discussion to assess the political situation and security in the Middle East.
In the opinion of the President of the Kurdistan Region is necessary to find political solutions to problems in a number of areas of Iraq and address, to be the solution with the people of those areas and not with the terrorists.
In response to one of the questions about the elections of the Iraqi parliament, which is scheduled to take place in 30 of Tsaan of this year, says Barzani: "There is no doubt that these elections will take place changes, and we hope that these changes to the progress in the current situation in Iraq."
The President announced Barzani during a meeting of the European Parliament, which was held last Tuesday that the Kurdistan Region factor of stability and not the problems, also reiterated to continue the policy pursued by the Kurdistan Region. He also called on the President of the Kurdistan Region to the European Union opening its representative office in the Kurdistan region, which would provide the relations between the countries of the European Union and the Kurdistan Region in economic and trade fields.
This is due to attend President of Kurdistan Region on Friday in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
As al-Qaeda continues to terrorize parts of Iraq, another battle looms over the country: control over Iraqi hydrocarbons and revenues. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is pressing ahead with its plans to independently export and sell Kurdish crude to Turkey, while Baghdad has threatened to cut the KRG’s budget and take legal action against Ankara. These tensions are occurring as oil-producing provinces are making their own oil and revenue demands, and threatening to boycott parliament and stage demonstrations. While this type of brinkmanship is common to post-Saddam Iraqi politics, it underlines the new fault lines that have emerged between Baghdad and provincial and regional authorities. These lines indicate that a viable power-sharing arrangement will be determined by fair access and distribution of the country’s oil wealth.
The heightened energy rhetoric reflects the opportunity to maximize political interests and leverage by Erbil and Baghdad. The KRG calculates that the weakened Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki needs Kurdish backing in the forthcoming elections to win a third term. KRG support includes Peshmerga (Kurdish militia) security assistance against al-Qaeda threats, particularly in the disputed territories. The KRG’s strengthened position also is shaped by its energy sector successes, including a newly-built pipeline that connects to the Iraqi-Turkish pipeline (ITP), oil contracts with major international oil companies (IOCs), and Turkish partnership. The KRG also is “fed up” with Baghdad and the numerous failed attempts to export its crude and secure consistent or full payment.
These developments have encouraged a more nationalist and less compromising KRG position. Whereas in 2010 the KRG recognized Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) as having the sole right to export Kurdish crude, by 2013 it had denied SOMO’s role in Kurdish energy sector development. Instead, the KRG states that its newly created Kurdistan Oil Marketing Organization (KOMO) is now the region’s export agency. The KRG has also tendered sales of its crude in the Turkish port of Ceyhan via KOMO to affirm this right.
Baghdad, however, has a different perception of the KRG’s leverage and energy strategy. Aware of Erbil’s financial dependency on the Iraqi government and the region’s current financial woes — Sulaimaniyah banks have been without cash for weeks and civil servants have not been paid — some Iraqi officials are willing to “call the KRG’s bluff.” They, too, have heightened the threat level by using Iraq’s own trump card: withholding KRG revenues, which represent 95% of the KRG annual budget. Baghdad also has resorted to legal action, arguing that exporting natural resources from Iraq without federal government approval is equivalent to taking confiscated or stolen property. Neither Erbil nor Ankara can therefore legally load tankers in Ceyhan and sell Kurdish crude without the risk of international arbitration from Baghdad.
The Baghdad-Erbil energy dispute also involves the Iraqi provinces, which further complicates its resolution. Despite their shared anti-Malikism, demands for greater oil revenues, rejection of the 2014 draft budget and their admiration for the KRG’s accomplishments, the provinces do not necessarily support Kurdish oil, revenue and political demands. Iraqi populations disagree with what they perceive as the KRG’s “double standards.” They argue that the KRG wants federalism on its own terms; it is part of Iraq when it is to the Kurds’ advantage (obtaining revenues), but independent at other times. Another common criticism by Arab Iraqis is that the KRG has “taken too much from Baghdad without giving anything back”.
Further, even though Basra and other oil-producing provinces have threatened to stop oil production and boycott the parliament, they do not fundamentally challenge the territorial integrity of Iraq. Their claims are based on “fairness” of revenue distribution and greater decentralization. A key demand is an increase in the government petrodollar payment from $1 to $5 per barrel. Although other provinces have attempted to follow the KRG example by signing independent contracts with IOCs, such as Salahuddin and Wasit, they later affirmed Baghdad’s sole authority over the energy sector and canceled the contracts. Even Barzani’s commercial partner in Ninevah province, Sunni Arab governor Atheel Nujaifi, has indicated that any oil development in the province would be coordinated with Baghdad.
Indeed, Maliki needs KRG support, particularly as the crisis in Anbar rages and tensions with the Sunni Arab community continue. Still, there are limits to how far Maliki can go to assuage the KRG in light of the growing demands by provincial administrations and local populations for government services and revenues — all fueled by a sense of Iraqi resource nationalism. Some Iraqi officials have argued that Maliki could even lose votes if he supports Kurdish independent export and payment demands. Others have reframed the oil imbroglio as a financial issue; a drain on the Iraqi economy that Baghdad can no longer sustain, given last year’s $18 billion budget deficit. Hence, Baghdad cannot afford to pay the KRG without Erbil’s contribution to the federal budget, which includes exporting 400,000 barrels per day via SOMO. These financial strains could increase further if Baghdad recognizes the creation of three new provinces, which would be eligible for their own budgets.
Despite the rhetoric, negotiations between Baghdad and the KRG continue, and short-term agreements are likely to be made before the April elections. Yet, the key issue of who controls oil and money extends beyond the Baghdad-Erbil dispute and into the provinces, which makes the problem a larger one of determining relative gains. For the KRG, the challenge is not only convincing Baghdad of its export and revenue rights, but other Iraqi provinces and populations who regard natural resources as part of Iraq’s national wealth to be distributed among Iraqis first. Still, the onus of responsibility lies with Baghdad. To maximize Iraqi energy sector potential, Iraqi officials will have to devise a more convincing strategy that assures its control over energy resource, incorporates the provinces and KRG fairly into this plan, and assures an equitable distribution of revenues to Iraqi populations.