Oil and the Question of Federalism in Iraq

According to a report from Chatham House, the ‘oil question’ in Iraq has traditionally been viewed almost exclusively through the prism of ethno-sectarianism.

Disputes over the management and licensing of the hydrocarbon sector and over revenue distribution have been seen as a battle for power between Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian communities, as if these were monolithic entities.

In reality, disputes are driven far more by the as-yet-unresolved issue of whether ultimate sovereign authority in Iraq lies with the central government or should be decentralized to regional and provincial governments.

As the main source of revenue in Iraq, control over the oil and gas sector is critical to the success of these rival agendas. Consequently, compromise has been impossible to achieve, and neither side is willing to make concessions for fear of threatening their long-term ambitions.

You can download the full report from Chatham House by clicking here.

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